A day after the wrestlers protesting at Jantar Mantar were detained by the Delhi Police, several sportspersons, including Olympic medal-winners Abhinav Bindra and Neeraj Chopra, condemned the alleged mistreatment of the protesters.
"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," retired sport shooter Bindra tweeted on Monday, 29 May.
Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra shared a clip of the wrestlers being 'manhandled' by the Delhi Police and said: "I feel sad watching this. There has to be a better way to deal with this."
Cricketer Irfan Pathan also showed support for the wrestlers, saying: "I'm so sad to see the visuals of our athletes... Please solve this ASAP."
Responding to a former IPS officer's tweet, in which he says that "the wrestlers will be shot if necessary," Bajrang Punia said on Monday:
"This IPS officer is talking about shooting us. Brother is standing in front, tell me where to come to get shot… I swear that I will not show my back, I will take your bullet on my chest. This is what has remained, now it is right to do with us."
Bajrang Punia with Delhi Police officials on Sunday, 28 May.
Wrestlers and their supporters being detained at Jantar Mantar.
Protesting wrestlers led a march to the new Parliament before they were detained by the Delhi Police.
Sakshi Malik, one of the wrestlers leading the protests against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, was detained ahead of the march to the new Parliament.
Vinesh Phogat being detained by the police.
Sakshi Malik being detained by the police.
What Happened on Sunday?
Chaos unfolded in Delhi on Sunday, 28 May, when several protesting wrestlers, including Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, and Sakshi Malik, were detained by the Delhi Police after a scuffle broke out between the protesters and the police at Jantar Mantar.
The wrestlers had planned a 'Mahila Mahapanchayat' outside the new Parliament building inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The wrestlers have been staging a dharna at Jantar Mantar for over a month now, demanding the arrest of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP and WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh over allegations of sexual harassment.
The Delhi Police, on Sunday, also cleared the wrestlers' protest site. Those who were detained were released later that evening.
'Dismantle Structures of Sexual Violence'
Over 1,000 people, including activists, lawyers, academics, former civil servants, artists, and concerned citizens released a statement on Sunday, condemning the police action against the protesting wrestlers and their supporters.
The signatories included current and former Parliamentarians Jawahar Sircar, Hannan Mollah, and Subhashini Ali; former bureaucrats Ardhendu Sen, Aditi Mehta, and Abhijit Sengupta; and lawyers Sudha Bharadwaj, Indira Jaising, Vrinda Grover, and Prashant Bhushan, among others.
They demanded the immediate arrest of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and the release of the detained wrestlers. "Dismantle the structures of sexual violence, NOT the protesters' tent! On the day that the Prime Minister was inaugurating a new Parliament house, democratic space was being crushed outside!" they said, in a press release.
'Our Fight Is Not Over': Sakshi Malik
Sharing a clip of her fighting in the wrestling ring and another of her being dragged by the Delhi Police on Sunday, Olympic bronze medalist Sakshi Malik, who has been at the forefront of the wrestlers' protest against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) Chief Bhushan Sharan Singh, took to Twitter to say:
"Never thought that while fighting in the wrestling ring, one day we will have to fight for justice on the streets like this…. The daughters of the country are very strong, when they can win medals abroad, they will accept the fight for justice in their own country only after winning it."
In one of her previous tweets, she asserted that the protests demanding Singh's arrest over charges of sexual harassment were "far from over."
"Our movement is not over. After being released from police custody, we will return to Jantar Mantar and resume our peaceful protests," she tweeted.
'Democracy Being Murdered'
Earlier on Sunday, in a video shared on multiple social media platforms, Vinesh Phogat alleged that "democracy was being murdered at Jantar Mantar in broad daylight."
"On one hand, the Prime Minister inaugurating a new Parliament and on the other, people who have turned up in our support are being detained," Phogat said.
Ahead of the wrestlers' protest march to the new Parliament, security was increased at Delhi borders, including Singhu, Tikri, and Ghazipur. Intensive patrolling was carried out in the national capital and its bordering areas.
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait with the farmers gathered near the Ghazipur border to join the wrestlers protesting against WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
Rakesh Tikait with the farmers gathered near the Ghazipur border. The police detained several farmer leaders in Haryana, including BKU Haryana chief Gurnam Singh Chaduni, in their houses.