Delhi Police says ‘no protest at Jantar Mantar’, wrestlers vow to continue fight | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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Delhi Police says ‘no protest at Jantar Mantar’, wrestlers vow to continue fight

May 30, 2023 02:20 AM IST

The wrestlers, however, said that their agitation is not over yet, and that they are planning to take the protest forward.

A day after some of India’s top wrestlers were evicted from Jantar Mantar and detained by Delhi Police, and the makeshift tents they were living in for the past 38 days were cleared, officers said on Monday that they would not be allowed to return to the spot.

Delhi Police and security forces at the Jantar Mantar protest site on Monday. (Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)
Delhi Police and security forces at the Jantar Mantar protest site on Monday. (Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)

The wrestlers, however, said that their agitation is not over yet, and that they are planning to take the protest forward. They also got support from other athletes, including India’s only two individual Olympic gold medallists Abhinav Bindra and Neeraj Chopra.

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Read: Action against wrestlers at Jantar Mantar: Khaps threaten to block roads to Delhi, stop supply of essentials

“As you all know, yesterday we were detained while we were trying to take out a peaceful protest march. They have filed FIRs against us even though we didn’t damage any property or person. There were 20 police personnel on each wrestler, so you can well understand how we were treated. To all our supporters, we would like to say that our struggle is not over yet. Today we spent the entire day planning how we are going to take this protest forward and we will share more information with you soon,” Sakhi Malik, a bronze medallist at Rio 2016, said in a video she posted on Twitter on Monday evening.

The wrestlers were protesting at Jantar Mantar since April 23 demanding the arrest of former Wrestling Federation of India chief and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh over allegations of sexual harassment of players, including a minor. On Sunday, the police detained several of them, including Olympic medallists Malik and Bajrang Punia and world championships medallist Vinesh Phogat, as they started marching towards the new Parliament building. Police forcibly dismantled the tents at the protest site, and booked the organisers of the wrestlers’ protest on charges of rioting and unlawful assembly.

On Monday, Pranav Tayal, the deputy commissioner of police (New Delhi), said, “The demonstration by the wrestlers was going on smoothly at the notified place of Jantar Mantar. On Sunday, the protestors flouted the law, ignoring our repeated requests. Hence, we cleared the site and ended the dharna.”

“If the wrestlers apply for permission to stage a sit-in in the future, they will be allowed at any of the suitable, notified places, other than Jantar Mantar,” he added.

Tayal’s tweets came after Dependra Pathak, special commissioner of police (law and order), on Sunday said the wrestlers would not be allowed to return to the protest site.

The first information report (FIR) against the protesters -- HT has seen a copy -- was filed at the Parliament Street police station on Sunday, and names Punia, Malik, and Vinesh Phogat.

Read: ‘Detained for 10 hours’ by Delhi cops, wrestler Bajrang Punia's ‘no point’ reply

Meanwhile, other top sportspersons voiced their support for the wrestlers.

“Last night was sleepless, haunted by the horrifying images of my fellow Indian wrestlers protesting. It’s high time we establish independent safeguarding measures across sporting organizations. We must ensure that if such situations arise, they are dealt with utmost sensitivity and respect. Every athlete deserves a safe and empowering environment,” Olympic gold medallist Bindra tweeted on Monday.

Earlier, on Sunday night, javelin athlete Neeraj Chopra, who won gold at the Tokyo Olympics and is among the favourites for a medal at Paris 2024, tweeted on Sunday night: “I am deeply saddened to see this. There has to be a better way to deal with this.”

Chopra’s post included a video in which police could be seen pushing, shoving and manhandling wrestlers, including Vinesh Phogat, Sangeeta Phogat and Punia, among others. One of the protesters was seen holding a Tricolour in their hands during the police action.

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