\"Return medals if..\" Bajrang Punia after police-wrestlers scuffle

New Delhi: Hours after a scuffle between wrestlers and Delhi Police at the Jantar Mantar protest site, India's ace grappler Bajrang Punia on Thursday said that wrestlers are willing to return to the government the medals, which they have won for the country over the years if police continue to dishonour them.

Punia alleges that drunk cops manhandled wrestlers late on Wednesday night when they wanted to bring in folding beds to the protest site.

"If the honour of the medal is like this, what will we do with this medal? It is better that we lead a modest life and return the medals, we have won, to the Government of India. Police do not see that he is Padma Shri. At that time they didn't honour that award. They were drunk and mistreated wrestlers by pushing and abusing," Punia told reporters at the Jantar Mantar protest site.

Some of India's top wrestlers, including Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, Sakshee Mallikh, have been protesting against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh over allegations of sexual harassment, demanding his arrest. Singh, the six-time MP has denied the allegations.

On Wednesday, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president PT Usha met the protesting wrestlers at Jantar Mantar.

Usha, a retired Indian track and field athlete and a Rajya Sabha MP, had earlier ruffled feathers with her remarks that the wrestlers should have approached the IOA instead of hitting the streets against the WFI and its president.

"Indian Olympic Association is having a committee for sexual harassment, instead of going to the streets they (protesting wrestlers) could have come to us earlier but they did not come to IOA. It is not good for sports not only for wrestlers, they should also have some discipline," the IOA president told reporters last week, a remark that didn't go down well with the wrestlers.

Three months ago prominent wrestlers came forward to lead a protest against the WFI chief, following which the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports announced the formation of an 'oversight committee' to probe allegations against the WFI, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and some coaches.

On April 23 Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik, returned to the protest site at Jantar Mantar. They claimed that six women wrestlers, and a minor, filed a sexual harassment complaint against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh at Connaught Place Police Station but Delhi Police did not register an FIR. The protesting grapplers also wanted the Ministry to make public the findings of the Oversight Committee.

Seven days into protest, police registered two FIRs against WFI president Singh over allegations of sexual harassment and exploitation of women wrestlers by him.

"The wrestlers should have taken this step three months ago. FIR has been registered, now the wrestlers should focus on their practice. Even the Prime Minister does not have the right to punish, only the court does," Yogeshwar Dutt told ANI.

The protesting wrestlers have made it clear that they won't move until they get justice and Brij Bhushan be removed as the WFI chief and put behind bars.

( Source : ANI )
Next Story