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Khap panchayat leaders and farmer unions head to Delhi, will join wrestlers’ protest at Jantar Mantar

Farmer unions have threatened to lay siege to Delhi if action is not taken against Singh in a week's time.

On Sunday, May 7, Khap panchayat leaders from Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Haryana are gathering at Jantar Mantar in Delhi to show solidarity with the protesting wrestlers. Delhi Police has stepped up security, both at the sit-in and the bordering areas of the national capital.

The wrestlers, including Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, and Vinesh Phogat, have been protesting against the President of the Wrestling Federation of India Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, claiming he sexually harassed female wrestlers. They are demanding the resignation and arrest of Singh.

The wrestlers are hoping Khap Mahapanchayat will be massively successful and boost their fight against Singh. The Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU-Tikait) have also extended support to the wrestlers. As per an Indian Express report, farmer unions have threatened to lay siege to Delhi if action is not taken against Singh in a week’s time.

BKU leader Rakesh Tikait, the leader during farmer protests, would also join the protests. He has released a video statement saying he would join Khap leaders at the protest site for Mahapanchayat to decide the direction of the protests. Before leaving for the protest site, Tikait said, “They (protesting wrestlers) have our full support. We will decide today (on the future course of action). Arrest (of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh) must be done when FIR has been registered.”

Sarv Khap General Secretary Subhash Baliyan said that around a dozen Khap panchayats were scheduled to join the protests to support the wrestlers. They would remain at the protest site until their demands were fulfilled.

The police have deployed extra force to maintain law and order in the area. All zones close to Jantar Mantar have been cordoned off. Reports suggest that there is no particular security protocol for the candlelight march for which Bajrang Punia has urged the public to join to show support for the wrestlers.

In a statement, Vinesh Phogat requested protesters to maintain peace and urged police not to stop the protesters. Sakshi Malik said in her statement she was yet to decide the next course of action, and her lawyers were working on the plan. She further said Sports Minister Anurag Thakur had not approached them yet. She said, “He already knows our demands, so it doesn’t make sense to meet him again. If he wants to talk to us, we will definitely talk.”

According to PTI, a group of farmers who tried to enter Delhi to join protests were stopped by Delhi Police at the Tikri border.

In a statement, a farmer leader said, “Our protest (to support wrestlers) is for one day (today). If the government doesn’t find a solution, we will consider what to do next.”

Many members of the Kirti Kisan Union reached Jantar Mantar and joined the protest against Singh.

Meanwhile, Singh released a video statement and said he would hang himself if a single allegation against him was proven.

Meanwhile, the Home Minister of Haryana Anil Vij also extended support to the protesting wrestlers. He said, “This entire matter is now being addressed at the highest level. Since I have also been a sports minister, my sympathies and support are with the protesting wrestlers. If they want me to meditate and talk to the government, I am willing to do so.”

In a statement, Anurag Thakur said the police were conducting an unbiased investigation into the matter. He said, “A demand had been put forward to form a committee and a panel was constituted. Two FIRs have also been registered by Delhi Police and Supreme Court also gave its verdict. Delhi Police is conducting a fair investigation.” He further added free and fair elections of the WFI were also being taken into consideration and Indian Olympic Association was working towards it.

Wrestler protest

On April 23, ace wrestlers Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, and Bajrang Punia launched a second round of protests against Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, alleging he sexually harassed hundreds of female wrestlers. The first round of protests took place in January this year. It was called off after Sports Minister Anurag Thakur formed a committee to investigate the matter. Following the fresh wrestlers’ protest, Delhi Police filed FIRs against Singh based on the complaints of seven athletes.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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