Aggrieved by the ill treatment and systematic violence meted out to the protesting wrestlers on May 28, they have now decided to throw their medals into the Ganga River in Haridwar on Tuesday, May 30 at 6 pm. In a statement put out by the wrestlers on their personal twitter handles, they have informed India and Indians that after throwing the medals, they will then sit on an indefinite hunger strike at India Gate, New Delhi. This comes after the wrestlers were brutally and forcefully dragged and detained by the Delhi police, as they prepared to go from Jantar Mantar ,where they have been protesting peacefully since April 23, 2023, to hold a sit-in `Mahila Samman Mahapanchayat’ near the new Parliament Building.
The protesting wrestlers were summarily dragged, forcibly pushed to the ground, manhandled, thrown into buses and removed to unknown destinations while the new Parliament building was being inaugurated, just less than two kms away. Later, an FIR against them was filed for violation of law and order.
Today, all the top wrestlers, including Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat, put out a statement in Hindi on their respective social media accounts, saying they would go to Haridwar and immerse their medals in the river. “We will throw our medals in river Ganga in Haridwar today at 6pm,” said the wrestlers, who have been protesting against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh over sexual harassment allegations.
Furthermore, the wrestlers announced their decision to go on a hunger strike till death by stating, “These medals are our lives, our souls. There would be no reason to live after throwing them in the Ganga today. So, we will sit on an indefinite hunger strike at India Gate after that.”
In the statement, the wrestlers have criticised both the President, Draupadi Murmu and Prime Minister, Narendra Modi for failing to listen to their complaints and turning a blind eye to their plight. The wrestlers condemned President Draupadi Murmu’s apathy, claiming that even though she is a woman, she did nothing when Delhi Police manhandled and detained them. The statement read “It came to our mind how to return the medals to our President, who is herself a woman. Our conscience said NO, because she is sitting just two Km away from us and has not, did not utter a single word,” the statement read.
They also expressed anguish at the Prime Minister Narendra Modi for prioritising the opening of the new Parliament and inviting WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who is a POCSO accused, to the occasion, while the protesting women wrestlers have had to face so many hardships. “The Prime Minister who calls us our daughters did not even show his concern for wrestlers. Rather he invited the oppressor (Brij Bhushan) to the inauguration of the new Parliament building. He even posed for photographs in bright white clothes. We have been stained by this brightness,” the statement said.
On August 18, 2016 the same Sakshi Malik had received accolades from Modi when she won the Olympic Bronze: a medal at the Rio Olympics, clinching bronze in the Women’s Freestyle 58 kg category with a spirited comeback victory over Aisuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan.
Image courtesy: The Quint
The full statement can be viewed here:
Unprecedented scenes had enfolded on Sunday when the Delhi police had dragged and manhandled the Olympic and world championships medal-winning players when the wrestlers and their supporters breached the security cordon ahead of their march towards the new Parliament building for the planned women’s ‘Mahapanchayat’. It was reportedly stated by the police that they acted harshly since the wrestlers did not have permission to move towards the new Parliament building, hours after it was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi! In an obviously violent and brutal tussle, the protesting wrestlers and their supporters were taken to different locations in the national capital and later released after having FIRs filed against them. Other senior and younger women’s activists were also detained and released.
It is essential to note that not only did the police use a disproportionate amount of force against the wrestlers and pushed them into buses, the police officers also cleared the protest site by removing the cots, mattresses, coolers, fans and the tarpaulin ceiling along with other belongings of the grapplers. The Delhi Police then also stated that it will not allow the wrestlers back into the protest site.
Before this, the Delhi police had tried to garner a local school under the AAP-ruled Municipal Corporation of Delhi to be converted into a temporary “jail”. Permission for that had been refused by the Mayor.