Yeh Jo India Hai Na.. yahan, new Parliament House ho, ya purana, every MP in there, is chosen by the people, to represent the will of the people, the people’s problems and issues.
And these are the people of India – these wrestlers.. including major medal winners – Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia – being roughed up and dragged away by the Delhi Police outside India’s new Parliament – these ARE people of India. But their will doesn’t seem to matter.
Did these sporting heroes want to disrupt the inauguration of the new Parliament House or undermine Prime Minister Modi’s big moment? Not at all. Did they really want to protest at Jantar Mantar all these months, living out of tents? Not at all.
PM Modi's Silence Matters
They want to be where they belong, at the ‘Akhada’, wrestling. Instead they are being forced to wrestle with the Delhi Police. Why? Because their voice.. for months, has not been heard by their government!
During his recent Australia visit, the PM very rightly spoke of how lakhs of Indians mourned Shane Warne’s death, revealing the depth of India and Australia’s cricketing ties. Yes, when the Prime Minister mentions Shane Warne, it matters. Because he is India’s Prime Minister.
And so, his continued silence about our wrestlers’ protests, that matters too. And sadly, it tells us that the political clout of one BJP MP, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the now ‘sidelined’ President of the Wresting Federation of India.. his clout, matters more than the serious allegations of sexual assault made against him by 7 of our women wrestlers, including 1 minor.
Demands of the Wrestlers
And what have the wrestlers been asking for? First, an FIR, which is mandated by law in cases of alleged sexual assault. But Delhi Police filed their FIRs against Brij Bhushan Singh only after the Supreme Court told them to.
On the other hand look at the speed at which Delhi Police acted on 28th May – rounding up the wrestlers, detaining them in police thanas all over Delhi, dismantling their tents and mattresses, AND filing an FIR against them - within hours. To register FIRs against Brij Bhushan Singh, superslow. But against the wrestlers, superfast. Why? Is there a remote control.. dictating their actions? We don’t know.
The wrestlers have also wanted Brij Bhushan Singh arrested, because he has been charged with at least three non-bailable and “serious” offences. Some point out that arrest is not mandatory if the maximum punishment for the offence is under seven years in jail.
But several legal experts have agreed that given the serious nature of the charges, especially the charge of sexual assault on a minor, arrest is “the norm”. At the very least, Brij Bhushan Singh needs to have been arrested for police interrogation. But that, has not happened.
Then, there’s the enquiry conducted by the Oversight Committee headed by Mary Kom, appointed by Sports Minister Anurag Thakur, to probe the charges against Singh. The committee’s Report has been ready since early April, but for some reason, it has not been made public, or even shared with the 7 complainants. Naturally the wrestlers are asking why? Why the secrecy? And again, they have been given no answer.
So, FIR delayed, no arrest, secrecy over committee report… ok. But what about simple propriety? Just doing the morally right thing? In the past, from Union Minister, MJ Akbar, to senior Karnataka leader and State Cabinet Minister, Ramesh Jarkiholi, to UP MLA Kuldip Sengar, the BJP has suspended or expelled or asked party leaders to step down from their posts when facing allegations of sexual harassment, or assault or rape.
But they seem to have spared Brij Bhushan Singh, maybe because there’s too much too lose if they dump him. A 6-time Lok Sabha MP from UP’s Bahraich-Gonda belt, it is said that he can influence elections in upto 6 Lok Sabha seats in the area.
And so, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh… trumps India’s wrestlers. The award winning wrestlers with whom Ministers took selfies, whom even the PM met and felicitated… those wrestlers are dragged away as they approach India’s brand new Parliament House in a peaceful protest, while a ‘Bahubali’ neta, facing serious allegations of sexual assault, may soon be sitting in that new Parliament House. Yeh Jo India Hai Na… yahan the will of the people, has lost to political reality.