New Delhi, June 7: Olympics bronze medallists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik, along with Satyawart Kadiyan, visited Union sports minister Anurag Thakur’s residence today as he had tweeted last night that the government was “willing to have a discussion” with protesting wrestlers.
The wrestlers put forth five demands. According to sources, these include free and fair elections to the Wrestling Federation of India and the appointment of a woman chief.
BJP MP Brij Bhushan Singh, the accused in serious allegations of sexual harassment, or his family members, could not be part of the WFI, the wrestlers told Thakur.
According to sources, Union home minister Amit Shah, whom the wrestlers met last week, has also invited the wrestlers for a second round of talks.
Medal-winning wrestlers including Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia have been protesting against BJP MP and Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who they have accused of sexually harassing women wrestlers. One of the complaints against Singh was a minor. On Tuesday, some reports say the minor has “withdrawn” her complaint. However, the POCSO FIR against Singh – as well as another FIR based on complaints by six adult women wrestlers – are still in place.
Between April 23 and May 28, the wrestlers were on a sit-in protest at Jantar Mantar, where they received widespread support from various groups including farmers’ unions. On May 28 – the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi was inaugurating the new parliament building, with Singh in attendance – the Delhi Police detained the protesting wrestlers, dismantled their protest sits and filed FIRs against them. The police has since refused them permission to return to Jantar Mantar or protest at India Gate.
Earlier, the wrestlers had accused Thakur of engaging in a “hush job” on Singh’s behalf. “When we met the sports minister, the women wrestlers shared individual incidents related to sexual harassment. The girls were crying before him, but no action was taken. The sports minister tried to hush up the matter yet again by forming a committee. We have tried to raise this issue at every level but the matter was always suppressed,” Vinesh Phogat had said.