New Delhi: India’s ace wrestlers – Sakshee Malikkh, Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia, who have been at the forefront of the protest against the country’s wrestling federation Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, have resumed their duties in the Railways. Sakshee Malikkh, Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia resumed their work on May 31, days after the protesting wrestlers were evicted from Jantar Mantar in Delhi – where they had been protesting since April. Both Ms Malikkh and Mr Punia have, however, denied the reports of withdrawing from the protest. “This is our fight for justice. We will not step back,” Ms Malikkh said. “We have resumed our duties in Railways, but we are also working on our future strategy,” she said. The wrestlers had also met Home Minister Amit Shah late Saturday evening to request him for an impartial probe against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh – who has been accused of sexual harassment by seven female wrestlers, including a minor. Amit Shah assured the wrestlers that the law remains the same for
everyone, it’s learnt. “Let the law take its own course,” he reportedly told the wrestlers. Ms Malikkh today said that they had a “normal” conversation with Mr Shah. “We have only one demand – to arrest Brij Bhushan Singh. We will continue our protest until we get justice,” she said. Sources say the protesting wrestlers had sought a meeting with Mr Shah after their five-day deadline for action against the wrestling federation chief ended on Saturday. The wrestlers, who allege that their protest against the wrestling federation chief has been largely ignored, had last month announced their decision to immerse their medals into the river Ganga in Haridwar.
They, however, temporarily shelved their plan after intervention from farmer leader Naresh Tikait. Earlier, the Delhi Police had accused the protesting wrestlers of rioting during their protest march to new parliament, saying they broke the law in a frenzy despite repeated requests. Several protesters were detained during the march on May 28. Visuals of champions Vinesh Phogat and her cousin Sangeeta Phogat being pinned onto the ground by the police had evoked shock and outrage across the country. The Delhi Police, who shut the Jantar Mantar protest site to the wrestlers after the crackdown, said they will also not be allowed to hold a protest at India Gate. Cops have filed two First Information Reports or FIRs against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. Of the two FIRs, one is based on combined complaints of six adult wrestlers, and a separate one is based on the complaint of the father of an underage wrestler. The wrestlers’ protest has grown in volume, with veterans from the sports fraternity and Haryana farmers joining in to show support. Internationally, the United World Wrestling (UWW), the sport’s governing body, issued a statement condemning the detention of the wrestlers and criticizing the “lack of results” in the investigations against Mr Singh. The UWW reminded the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) of its promise to hold fresh elections for the WFI within 45 days and warned that failure to do so may lead to the suspension of the federation.