Olympic medalist wrestler Sakshi Malik on Monday rejected reports that wrestlers have withdrawn their ongoing protest in the national capital against the Wrestling Federation of India Chief Brij Bhushan Singh, who is facing accusations of sexually harassing some women grapplers. Malik was earlier seen at the office of the Northern Railways in the national capital, triggering speculations that she has rejoined her office.
“No this is all rumours we did not call off the protest. I came to the office to finish some pending work for a day or two and we are making our strategy on what to do next, how to continue the protest in a non-violent way” Sakshi Malik told ANI. When asked about claims that she has rejoined work, the grappler who is an Officer on Special Duty (Sports) in the Railways and needed to finish pending work. “I have a lot of responsibilities. Till the time we are not sitting on a protest, I have resumed my duties as I am an OSD I and came to finish some pending work. We are looking at our future strategy,” Sakshi clarified. When asked about the claims that the minor who was among the grapplers who had accusing WFI chief Bhushan of sexual harassment had taken back her complaint, Malik she said, “This is all fake news to discredit our protest in the eyes of the public and to make us lose public support.”
“This is all wrong we never backed down in this fight and never will. Until we get justice this protest will continue,” she added. Talking about her meeting with Home Minister, Amit Shah on Saturday said that it was a normal conversation and no final solution was achieved. “Our demand will be the same, to get the accused arrested,” she said. “We have not withdrawn our names, Vinesh, I and Bajrang are together in this protest and we have not withdrawn our names,” she added. Earlier the Olympian wrestler too had taken to Twitter to refute the reports that wrestlers had withdrawn their protest. “This news is completely wrong. In the fight for justice, none of us has backed down, nor will we. Along with a Satyagraha, I am fulfilling my responsibility in the Railways. Our fight continues till justice is served. Please don’t spread any wrong news,” she tweeted. “The fight will continue till justice is served,” Bajrang Punia also said in a tweet.
Olympians Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat had been on protest since the beginning of this year in order to press for the removal and arrest of the WFI chief over allegations of sexual harassment. On May 28, wrestlers had planned a march and protest in front of the new Parliament, despite the imposition of Section 144 in the area. They were detained on their way by the Delhi police and FIR was filed against them under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 147, 149, 186, 188, 332, 353, Section 3 of the PDPP Act. The protest site was also cleared by the Delhi Police. Following their removal from Jantar Mantar, Wrestlers arrived in Haridwar two days later to immerse their medals in the Ganga. However, they later issue a five-day ultimatum to the Centre to act against the WFI chief following the intervention of farmer leader Naresh Tikait. The Delhi police have registered 10 complaints and two FIRs against WFI chief Brij Bhusan Singh. The first FIR relates to allegations by a minor and has been registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, while the second FIR is related to outraging modesty. WFI chief has however said that he will “hang himself” if even one accusation against him is true. “I will hang myself even if one allegation against me turns out to be true. I stand by my statement..,” said Brij Bhushan to the media in Gonda after the FIRs. United World Wrestling (UWW) has condemned the detention of wrestlers during their march to the new parliament building. It has demanded action against the WFI chief.
“UWW firmly condemns the treatment and detention of the wrestlers. It expresses its disappointment over the lack of results of the investigations so far. UWW urges the relevant authorities to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the allegations,” the world wrestling body said in a statement. “UWW will request further information about the next elective general assembly from the 10A and the Ad-hoc Committee of the WFI. The 45-day deadline that was initially set to hold this elective assembly shall be respected. Failing to do so may lead UWW to suspend the federation, thereby forcing the athletes to compete under a neutral flag. It is reminded that UWW already took a measure in this situation by reallocating the Asian Championship planned in New Delhi earlier this year,” it added. “For several months, United World Wrestling has followed with great concern the situation in India where wrestlers are protesting over allegations of abuse and harassment by the President of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI). It has taken due note that the WFI President has been put aside at an early stage and is currently not in charge,” UWW stated further. “As it has already done since the beginning of this situation, UWW will hold a meeting with the wrestlers to inquire about their condition and safety and reconfirm our support for a fair and just resolution of their concerns,” it added. (ANI)