Yesterday was a bleak moment in the history of Indian sports. Top national wrestlers like Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, and Bajrang Punia were manhandled and detained while they were leading a women ‘mahapanchayat’ towards the new Parliament building.
Clothes torn, dragged into the bus — there were enough pictures to showcase the sad state of affairs. The harrowing visuals poured in throughout the day showing large groups of police personnel dragging and detaining some of the Olympic-medal-winning wrestlers who had been protesting in the national capital for over a month.
The wrestlers have been seeking action against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan who has been accused of sexual harassment by seven female wrestlers, including a minor. The police only filed an FIR against Singh after the matter reached the doors of the Supreme Court. The athletes unanimously claimed that they would continue to engage in a protest until Singh was arrested.
However, later yesterday an FIR was registered against the organisers and wrestlers at Barakhamba Police Station. The police also removed tents, mattresses, and all other items from Jantar Mantar where the protesters had camped out for weeks.
Wrestlers Detained: Why Do Women Have To Pay Price For Speaking Out?
The Delhi Police on Monday said that if the wrestlers, who were till yesterday protesting at Jantar Mantar, apply for permission to stage a dharna again in future, will be allowed “at any of the suitable, notified places,” except for Jantar Mantar.
In a video posted on her official Twitter account, Vinesh Phogat said “Democracy is being murdered openly”. She added the nation will remember how “women who were demanding their rights were suppressed while the new Parliament was being inaugurated”.
The protests which began in January were called off the same month after Singh was stripped of his administrative powers by the sports ministry and the government promised to investigate their complaints.
However, the wrestlers restarted their protests in April, calling for his arrest. The Indian Olympic Association then set up a committee to investigate the allegations and submitted its report weeks ago. But the committee's findings haven't been revealed yet, reports BBC.
Indian sports is having its own #MeToo movement, but are we even listening to our daughters? It is a pity that women have to pay the price for speaking up, for taking a stand, for getting their basic rights discussed. So many high-profile men have gone under the radar but later had refurbished careers. How is it that the women who came forward with sexual assault allegations continue to face repercussions while the accused creep back into the workspace?
Earlier this month, amid the ongoing protest, SheThePeople’s reporter Priya Prakash went to the protest site to enlighten readers with an on-the-ground report of the situation. A student protester said that what we are witnessing is shameful because the kind of treatment the athletes are subjected to is disgraceful. “While they have to be bestowed with medals, they’re being dealt with violence,” she added. “Let’s stand in solidarity with each other regardless of the price we have to pay,” said another protester.
It was an encouraging sight to witness so many young girls come out in support of the truth. We need this win more than anything, to know that our voices never go unheard again in the future.
Views expressed by the author are their own. Image credits: AFP