Protesting wrestlers defer plan to immerse medals in Ganga

NEW DELHI: After much persuasion from Bharatiya Kisan Union chief Naresh Tikait, the protesting wrestlers, including Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia, deferred their plan to immerse their medals into the Ganga and handed them to Mr Tikait instead, who said the government has five days to attend to their demands.

On Tuesday evening, the grapplers reached Har ki Pauri in Haridwar to immerse their medals in the sacred waters of the Ganga as a symbolic act of protest against Wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. The protesting wrestlers, who were detained by the Delhi Police and removed from their Jantar Mantar protest site, said they will immerse their hard-earned medals into the Ganges and sit on a hunger strike "until death" at the India Gate.

The Delhi police responding to the wrestlers threat of protest at India Gate said that they will not be allowed to shift their sit-in to India Gate as the national monument is not a site for demonstrations.

"No formal request has been received from the wrestlers thus far. To proceed with any demonstration, the wrestlers must adhere to the protocol by submitting a written communication to the DCP concerned. The decision regarding their request will be made based on the established guidelines and procedures," a source said, adding, "We will suggest alternate sites for protest, including Ramleela Ground and Burari."

A large gathering assembled at Har ki Pauri as the wrestlers reached there with their world and Olympic medals. They stood in silence for approximately 20 minutes. Subsequently, they took a seat by the riverbanks, where Mr Tikait intervened and asked the protesting wrestlers to hold on to the medals and not to immerse them in the Ganga river.

After dissuading the wrestlers from throwing their medals in the Ganga, Mr Tikait said, "We won't let them down. We are going to organise a khap meeting and discuss what should be done. Meanwhile, we have given five days' notice to the government. We won't let their heads hang in shame as they are our pride."

In another development, Amit Pehelwan, who claims to be the uncle of the "minor" girl who was allegedly sexually harassed, has hit out at the protesting wrestlers, saying that they are "misleading" his family and using them to frame the WFI chief. He claimed that the wrestlers are carrying out a scam as his niece's age has been changed to 16 years, so that the grapplers can "wrongly utilise" the POCSO Act. He said the girl's date of birth is February 22, 2004.

"These wrestlers are using my family to carry out a scam. The victim they claim is a minor; I am from that family; she is my niece. The POCSO Act cannot be used here. The victim is 20-year-old. Is this not the wrong use of the POCSO Act?" asked Mr Pehelwan, who does not share a good rapport with his brother.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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