Wrestlers say WFI chief pressurising victims; to resume protest if no action is taken by June 15
The government had assured the wrestlers that a chargesheet will be filed against the outgoing WFI chief by June 15, following which they had halted their protest.
SONEPAT: The WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh is using his influence to put sexual harassment victims under pressure and forcing them to change their statements, the protesting wrestlers alleged on Saturday, threatening to resume their stir if strong action is not taken against him by June 15.
The government had assured the wrestlers that a chargesheet will be filed against the outgoing Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Singh by June 15, following which they had halted their protest.
The wrestlers called a 'Panchayat' at Chhotu Ram Dharamshaala in Sonepat district, inviting khap, farmers and members from women's organisations, who have supported them in their "fight for justice."
The wrestlers apprised their supporters of the discussion they had with Sports Minister Anurag Thakur on Wednesday.
Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik said efforts are being made to break the victims.
"It's proved, the statements were recorded under sections 161 and 164 and it changed. We can't understand," Sakshi said referring to the withdrawal of sexual harassment charges by a minor, who is one of the seven complainants in the case.
"It is clear that the father of the minor was under pressure. Pressure is being built. For how long we will fight then," she said.
"Bajrang is getting calls, bik jao, toot jao (take a bribe, end the protest). Wrong narratives are being set (by the media). It breaks our hearts," she said.
"That is why we had said first arrest him and then investigate. If he is in police custody, he can't pressurise. Otherwise, one by one, victims will break. Till he is out, an atmosphere of terror will remain."
"We will not compete in Asian Games until a proper resolution comes out in this case. You can't understand the mental agony we are going through every day," said Bajrang Punia, one of the key members of the protest, while speaking during the panchayat, insisted that no politics is involved in their stir against the WFI chief.
Later speaking to the media, he said, "We had called this Panchayat to inform everyone of the discussion we had. If strong action is not taken by June 15, we will resume our protest."
He said they had not yet decided on the venue of the protest and it could be either "Jantar Mantar or Ram Leela Maidan."
The Delhi police have already made it clear that the wrestlers will not be allowed back to Jantar Mantar.
Vinesh Phogat was not part of the discussion when Thakur had invited wrestlers for an interaction and she was absent even today.
Asked about this, both Bajrang and Sakshi gave different answers.
"Let me tell you that Sakshi, Bajrang and Vinesh are one. Vinesh is handling the legal issue, there is a lot of other work as well. Rumours are being spread that we are stepping back We are one, we are united in our decisions," said Sakshi.
Bajrang said, "Vinesh is unwell that is why she is not here today."
Both Bajrang and Sakshi criticised the Delhi Police for taking one of the victims to the WFI office in New Delhi when the accused was also present on the premises.
"How fair is that you take a girl there to re-create the scene when that man is there inside? You can understand the mental pressure she would have felt," said Bajrang.
A few media outlets suggested that the wrestler reached the WFI office to work out a compromise and Sakshi denounced it.
"Delhi police was wrong. What's the use of this? I request, not to spread wrong news. We are getting support, do not mislead. We are working hard, we break every day. Then we lift our spirits. If you can't support us, then at least do not spread wrong information," she concluded.