Trigger Warning: This article is about the ongoing wrestlers’ protest and mentions sexual harassment.
The recent occurrences involving our nation’s women wrestlers taking a stand against sexual harassment have ignited a series of concerns regarding the efficacy of our law enforcement, the functioning of our parliamentary system, and the collective responsibility that falls upon all members of society, particularly women.
It is disheartening to witness a situation where an accused of sexual harassment appeared to be at ease, seated comfortably during the inauguration of the new parliament building, while simultaneously witnessing the distressing sight of a female wrestler being forcefully dragged across the road by the Delhi Police.
This harrowing scene not only evoked strong emotional reactions within us but also shook our trust in the foundational principles of our constitution and the effectiveness of our legal system.
In 2016, Sakshi Malik was appointed as the Haryana brand ambassador of “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao”, an initiative aimed at empowering girls in Haryana. At the time, it seemed like a promising step towards a brighter future for women in our country. However, as we stand today, the question arises: where are all the people who once championed the cause? It is undeniably disheartening to witness the prevailing apathy and mistreatment faced by our esteemed champions.
These individuals have brought immense pride and honour to our country through their outstanding achievements in sports. But today, they find themselves bearing the weight of oppressive actions from their very own police administration.
This unfortunate reality demands careful contemplation. If the government and the administration, entities responsible for safeguarding the rights and well-being of their citizens, are complicit in subjecting such accomplished women to such treatment, then who will lend an ear to the voice of every common woman in this nation? Will the pleas and cries of these women ever reach the ears of those in power?
In a tragic twist of fate, the incident involving the Delhi Police’s brutal treatment of our national women wrestlers coincided with the inauguration of the new Parliament House. This unfortunate incident tainted the moment, which should have been a symbol of justice and truth. Instead, our wrestlers, who were protesting peacefully for justice, were manhandled. It is a matter of shame that our champions, who have represented our country with dignity, are being treated like this.
This incident highlights a larger issue within our society: the failure of the system to protect itself. Wrestlers who have stood up against sexual harassment by the MP of the country have been commended for their bravery and determination to bring about change. However, instead of receiving the support they deserve, they are facing resistance and abuse. It sends out a sad message that our democratic values and ethos have been tarnished by this act of brutality.
When our women wrestlers brought home Olympic medals, the Prime Minister was quick to take credit for their achievements. However, in their hour of need, instead of addressing their grievances, the government ordered the Delhi Police to act against them. This stark contrast between taking credit for success and shunning individuals who have brought glory to our nation is deeply disturbing. It highlights the lack of political accountability and the protection of those in power at the expense of the victims.
We must recognise that democracy thrives on tolerance and the ability to dissent. However, recent events have shown us that authoritarian forces thrive on intolerance and the suppression of voices. The unjust treatment meted out to our wrestlers is a testament to the deteriorating state of our democracy under the current political dispensation. The construction of grand edifices cannot hide the shameful reality that lies beneath, as if the inauguration of the new Parliament House was done in the pride of power and that power ordered the Delhi police to crush the daughters.
History tells us that nations do not fall simply because of the tyranny of the wicked, but because the virtuous prefer to remain silent. When the voices of the righteous are stifled, their absence speaks louder than any oppressive regime. We cannot ignore that the ill-treatment meted out to our wrestlers is not only a tragedy in itself but also a reflection of the silence of those who should have raised their voices against injustice.
The individuals subjected to police brutality were not just ordinary people; they had remarkable achievements and accolades. Among them, Shakshi Malik stands as an esteemed Olympic medalist, Padma Shri recipient, and Khel Ratna Awardee. Similarly, Bajrang Punia also holds the distinction of being an Olympic medalist, a Padma Shri awardee, and a Khel Ratna awardee. Another notable figure, Vinesh Fagota, has been recognised with the Commonwealth Game Award Khel Ratna and holds the esteemed title of Arjuna Awardee. Lastly, Sangeeta Phogat, a renowned national champion, adds to the list of esteemed athletes who faced police brutality.
This raises a pressing concern among the citizens of this country. If the champions who have brought pride and glory to our nation are subjected to such treatment, what hope can an ordinary citizen have for justice?
It is imperative for us all to reflect on these distressing circumstances and recognise the urgency for change. The silencing of the voices that have brought glory to our nation must not be tolerated. Instead, we must stand in solidarity with these individuals and collectively demand accountability from those in power. Only by doing so can we hope to create an environment where the contributions of women are celebrated and respected and where the rights and aspirations of all individuals, regardless of gender, are safeguarded.