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Will continue to fight till we get justice, say wrestlers Sakshi, Bajrang


Published on: June 5, 2023 | Updated on: June 5, 2023

Wrestlers Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia speak with the media during their protest at Jantar Mantar, in New Delhi, Thursday, May 4, 2023. (File Photo: PTI)

New Delhi:A day after meeting Union home minister Amit Shah, Olympic medallists Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia on Monday said they will continue their fight for justice and rubbished claims that they have abandoned the protest. The wrestlers, who met Shah late on Saturday night, demanded the arrest of controversial BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who has been accused by a number of India’s top wrestlers of sexual harassment and molestation. The home minister, however, told the wrestlers that "let the law take its course".

The protesting wrestlers have now decided to hold a "mahapanchayat" of sportspersons to press for their demand to arrest the outgoing Wrestling Federation of India chief, who is facing two FIRs based on complaints of six adult wrestlers and the father of a minor, which narrate several alleged cases of sexual harassment, inappropriate touching, groping, stalking and intimidation by him at different times and places, including in foreign countries, over a decade.
The protesting wrestlers will also be extending an invitation to khap leaders to join the "mahapanchayat", whose venue has not been decided so far.

A recent khap "mahapanchayat" in Haryana’s Kurukshetra district had  set a June 9 deadline for the Central government to arrest the controversial BJP MP. The mahapanchayat, attended among others by farmers and khap leaders from Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and  Uttar Pradesh, had said if Singh was not arrested, they will go to  Delhi’s Jantar Mantar on June 9 and also hold similar panchayats across the nation.

Malik, Phogat and Punia  have been protesting against the outgoing WFI chief for over two months. Soon after the three wrestlers resumed their government services on Monday, some reports alleged they had "called off their agitation".
But Punia termed these reports "just a rumour", adding that the report of women wrestlers taking back the FIR was also "false" He said: "This news is being spread to harm us. We have neither retreated nor have we withdrawn from the movement. The news of women wrestlers taking back the FIR is also false. The fight will continue till justice is served."

Punia said: "Those who said our medals are worth Rs 15 are now after our jobs. Our life is at stake… If the job is the obstacle in the way of justice, then we will not take even 10 seconds to leave it."

In her tweet, Malik said: "This news is completely wrong. In the fight for justice, none of us has backed down, nor will we. Along with satyagraha, I am fulfilling my responsibility in the Railways. Our fight continues till justice is served. Please don't spread any wrong news."

Asked if she has distanced herself from the movement since she resumed her duties in the Railways, Malik told reporters: "Let me make it clear, we are making our strategy to take our fight forward. We will ensure that there is no violence, how we can take the protest forward, we are working on that… I am (an) OSD (officer on special duty) first and I have a lot of responsibilities, so as long as we are making our strategy and not sitting on the protest, I will take care of my official duties."

On the reports that the minor girl has withdrawn her FIR, Malik said: "This is all fake news to weaken our satyagraha and our protest to alienate us from the public. This is wrong. We have not gone back on our fight and we will not do so.  Till we get justice, the fight will go on."

On the meeting with home minister, she said: "It was a normal conversation. No final solution has emerged. Our stance will remain the same, arrest the accused. Vinesh, Bajrang and I are together in this fight and till we get justice, we will remain united."