Protesting wrestling champs meet union sports minister, 2nd meet with govt in 5 days

Five demands raised were raised at the meeting at the minister’s residence: arrest of WFI president was a primary demand along with the appointment of a woman to head the federation body

On the morning of June 7, a crucial meeting was held between the protesting wrestlers and Union sports minister Anurag Thakur at his residence, after the previous meeting of the wrestlers with the Union Home Minister, Amit Shah did not yield any positive result. On June 3, a delegation of grapplers and their coaches had met Amit Shah, who had advised them to “allow the law to take its own course”. The government, which have been given time till June 9 to take action against BJP MLA and WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh by the farmer leader Rakesh Tikait, have continued with its effort to strike a deal with the protesting wrestlers.

Past midnight Tuesday, June 6-7, Thakur tweeted that the government was willing to have a discussion with the wrestlers over their issues. “I have once again invited the wrestlers for the same,” he had tweeted. The meeting was called by Thakur to discuss the “issues” that the wrestlers had as well as their long-standing demand for arrest of Singh over the sexual harassment and POCSO charges levied against him.  Even after facing so many hardships, the wrestlers have been adamant that they will continue their agitation till Singh, who they have accused of sexual harassment, is arrested.

Before the meeting, Sakshi Malik, who is one of the wrestlers leading the said protest, said that they will not agree to just about anything that the government had to offer. She clarified that their protest would continue till their demand for quick action against Singh was met. Malik has led the protracted agitation against Singh, a powerful Rajput leader from Uttar Pradesh, along with Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat.

After the decision to attend the meeting was taken, the wrestling coach and Dronacharya awardee Mahavir Singh Phogat said that the government’s offer for talks was a good sign. “The government has woken up after so many days. A solution must come out now,” as was reported by the news agency ANI.

“The wrestlers look positive in their approach. We are hoping for a resolution today. The idea is that the sport should not suffer,” said a sports ministry official ahead of the meeting, as reported by the Siasat Daily.

Bajrang Punia, Rio Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik and her wrestler husband Satyawart Kadiyan, were a part of the meeting at the minister’s house. Notably, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait, who has been supporting the wrestlers in their protest, was not a part of today’s meet.

As reported by the Siasat Daily, in their meeting with Thakur, the wrestlers put forth five demands to the sports minister which are as follows:

  • The wrestlers stressed on their primary demand that the accused WFI president be arrested on the charges against him.
  • Free and fair elections to be held at the WFI as well as the removal of corruption-accused leaders and better management.
  • A woman be made the head of the wrestling body.
  • Brij Bhushan and his family be kept away from the wrestling body and its elections.
  • Revocation of the FIR filed against them for violation of law and order, after a brawl with the police amid their march towards the new Parliament house on the day of its inauguration.

After the second round of meetings between the government and protesting wrestlers in a space of five days, it has been reported that the government is willing to accept most of their demands, yet the arrest of Singh remains a major bone of contention. No official statement has yet been evinced from the government after the said meeting. Since the wrestlers have refused to bow down regarding these demands raised by them, all eyes are on the government, to see whether they will stand behind the daughters of India, or against them.


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