Tokyo Olympic Bronze medallist Bajrang Punia, Commonwealth Games Gold winner Vinesh Phogat, Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik and other top Indian wrestlers, who are staging yet another protest against the WFI and Brijbushan Sharan Singh over allegations of sexual abuse, spent the night of 23rd April sleeping in the open on a footpath near the site of the protest.
The wrestlers restarted their protest after seven women wrestlers, including a minor, tried to lodge a complaint against the federation, but the police did not register an FIR.
Sakshi Malik expressed the wrestlers’ concern regarding to the sensitivity of the situation and asked for the report to be made public.
“We want the report, which has recorded women wrestlers’ statement, to be public. It’s a sensitive issue, one of the complainants is a minor girl," the 30-year-old said.
“We won’t leave from here until Brij Bhushan is arrested," Bajrang Punia asserted.
“This time, all parties are welcome to join our protest whether it is BJP, Congress, AAP or any other party. We’re not affiliated with any party," Punia added.
Earlier the protestors had mentioned that they are not seeking support of any party and that no political party should join them in making this a political matter but at the recent turn of events, they are welcoming it.
Vinesh said, “We are going to sleep and eat here till we get justice."
“We have been trying to contact them for three months. The members of the committee are not responding to us, sports ministry has also not said anything, they don’t even pick up our calls. We have won medals for the country and have put our careers at stake for this," Vinesh added.
In a scathing comment, Phogat said “How long is it going to take for the committee to submit its report? It has already been three months and we are still waiting to hear from them. Will the report come out after the girls, who have filed complaints, die?"
Top Indian wrestlers who held a protest earlier in the year against the top echelons of the Wrestling Federation agreed to take a step back and have their concerns addressed as they ended a three-day dharna at the Jantar Mantar in Delhi after receiving assurances from the oversight committee and the sports minister that the issues will be looked into with seriousness.
Brijbushan Singh was asked to step down from his position of authority in the WFI and an oversight committee, led by the legendary Indian boxer MC Mary Kom was set up to take care of the day-to-day functioning of the federation and to prepare an extensive report on the accusations.
Vinesh said that she had tried to reach out to the oversight committee, but had received no response. She also added that her attempts to reach out to sports minister Anurag Thakur provided futile too.
The 28-year-old wrestler said that they were left with no option but to move to court as the promises made to them by the authorities weren’t fulfilled.