Following a skirmish with the Delhi Police on Wednesday, 3 May, which led to three wrestlers sustaining injuries, the grapplers continued their protest in New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar. Earlier in the day, Delhi Police had heavily barricaded the entrance into the protest site, albeit it was later relaxed.
Somnath Bharti Did Not Bring Beds: Vinesh Phogat
Whilst the police had previously stated that the skirmish broke out when Somnath Bharti, and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) politician and MLA from Malviya Nagar, tried to get folding beds to the protest site without any permission, wrestler Vinesh Phogat claimed the beds were not brought by Bharti.
“Somnath Bharti had arrived 10-15 minutes before the incident. The beds were arranged by us, wrestlers. But even if we agree with what they are saying – that Somnath Bharti brought those beds – do we not have even the right to sleep? The police turned to violence with no provocation, our fellow wrestlers were injured,” said Vinesh, during a press conference.
We Will Return Our Medals: Bajrang Punia
Olympic medallist Bajrang Punia further stated that they are ready to return all of their medals, following Wednesday’s incident. “When this is the behaviour medal-winning wrestlers are being subjected to, those medals are not of any use. They can take all of those medals back,” he said.
Punia further said that sidelined WFI chief, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh’s ‘IT cell’ is trying to feed a political narrative to the issue, in an attempt to deviate the protest from its usual course.
I don't know why everything is being given a political angle. Yesterday, PT Usha came to talk with us. We also have had people from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coming here. This is not a political issue, but Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh is trying to use his 'IT cell' to malign us.Bajrang Punia
Police Yet to Record Testomonies
The protesting wrestlers further accused Delhi Police of safeguarding Singh, stating that despite lodging an FIR on 28 April, they are yet to record testimonies of the seven complainants under section 164.
Swati Maliwal, the Delhi Commission for Women's chief (DCW), who arrived in Jantar Mantar in the early hours of Thursday after being detained during the skirmish, enquired "There are 400 police officers here, can't one of these 400 go and arrest Brij Bhushan? Can't they record the wrestlers' testimonies under section 164? Why are they so invested in saving Brij Bhushan?"
Echoing her statement, Vinesh added “The FIR was lodged on 28 April. Why have not the police recorded the complainants’ testimonies yet? Whom are they trying to save?”
What does the law say?
Unless a statement is made before a magistrate under Sec 164 (or in a few other specific cases such as when any fact is said to have been "discovered” as a consequence of information received by the police from the accused), the statement will neither be a confession nor have any evidentiary value.
Supreme Court Closes Proceedings
Meanwhile, at the Supreme Court hearing, a bench led by Chief Justice of India, DY Chandrachud, stated that the proceeding will be closed, given that the plea’s purpose – registration of an FIR – has already been fulfilled.
"Keeping in mind the ambit of these proceedings, we close the proceedings at this stage. If petitioners wish for something else, they can approach the magistrate or the HC in its jurisdiction," CJI DY Chandrachud said.
The apex court further asked wrestlers to move high court, or magistrate, with this issue.
Representing Delhi Police, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta stated that as per the court’s directive, security has been provided to all seven complainants.
No Drunk Police Personnel: DCP New Delhi
Including Vinesh, the protesting wrestlers had earlier alleged that they were manhandled by a drunk police personnel. Responding to the accusations, DCP of New Delhi, Pranav Tayal said that after medical examinations, it was found that no police personnel were in a state of intoxication during the scuffle.