Bout with WFI takes new turn

Vinayak Padmadeo

New Delhi, April 25

Even as prominent politicians came out in support of the protesting wrestlers at Jantar Mantar, the wrestlers opened another front by alleging that the complainants are getting threats.

Vinesh Phogat, who has taken the lead in the wrestlers’ fight against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, has alleged that the Delhi Police have leaked out the names of the seven victims who filed a sexual harassment complaint against the former Wrestling Federation of India president on Friday.

Further, the two-time World Championships bronze medallist alleged that two persons close to the WFI have been calling up the complainants, threatening them to end the protest.

“I think the Delhi Police came under pressure the moment we filed the complaint,” Vinesh said. “I do not know whether it is political pressure or money power but it has been almost four days and they are yet to register an FIR. The Delhi Police have revealed our names. We know that Brij Bhushan has come to know the names and we know that two-three girls have already received threatening calls. If they are not being scared off they are being offered money to withdraw,” she added.

Former Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda with Bajrang. TRIBUNE PHOTO: MUKESH AGGARWAL

“There are two people who are doing this on his behalf. Haryana association secretary Rakesh is calling up the girls. Then there is Mahavir Bishnoi, who is a Dronacharya award winning coach. He is also trying to manipulate the girls. They want to break us by hook or by crook. That is why the Delhi Police are not taking any action,” she added.

“One person came to my parents’ house after the last dharna and tried to find out my whereabouts. It is all happening because of him (Singh),” she added.

The wrestlers, including Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik, said that they will not end the protest even if an FIR is registered against Singh.

“There is no point in filing an FIR. There are thousands lodged in the country and it goes on for years and the accused get out on bail. You do not get justice,” Vinesh said. “That guy (Singh) will be out on bail and we will be abducted from our houses. He is that powerful. It will only take him two minutes to get us all shot. If he stays out, do you think we can train? He should be arrested and then we will know he has lost his power,” she added.

Politicos make a beeline

After the wrestlers’ clarion call for support, politicians and kisan union representatives came to express their solidarity with the wrestlers. Haryana’s former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Congress’ Udit Raj, CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat and Aam Aadmi Party’s spokesperson Reena Gupta were some of the prominent names who came out in support of the wrestlers.

Hooda stayed with the wrestlers for over half an hour and demanded immediate action against the WFI president. The presence of politicians as well as kisan union representatives, including those from the Bharatiya Kisan Union, has raised questions that the protest is becoming political.

Vinesh, however, defended it by saying that it was course correction. “Last time we had decided to stay away from politicians as we were wary that they may play dirty. We stopped them and even then we were taken for a ride. That is why we have requested everyone to come. Not only parties, kisan unions are also welcome. We are all sons and daughters of farmers. We are fighting for our as well as their respect,” Vinesh said.

Vinesh also denied allegations that the protest is turning into a fight between Haryana’s Jats and Uttar Pradesh’s Rajputs.

“This is not UP vs Haryana. I am an athlete from India. We always say that we have won a medal for our country. We fight for the country. Whoever is saying this is wrong, including Brij Bhushan who is applying all tricks to stall us,” she added.

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