‘We don’t need security’

Vinayak Padmadeo

New Delhi, May 1

The wrestlers protesting at Jantar Mantar have refused the security cover provided by the Delhi Police. Kapil Sibal, who has been representing the wrestlers in the alleged sexual harassment complaint in the Supreme Court against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, had sought protection for the protesting wrestlers — Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik — and the seven complainants.

Following the hearing in the SC, where Sibal had submitted an affidavit in a sealed envelope and raised concerns about the safety of a minor complainant, the bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha had directed the Delhi Police to provide security to the minor and also to make an assessment of the threat to the other complainants. If required, the police were to provide security to them as well.

The Delhi Police had then provided two personal security officers to Bajrang and one each to Vinesh and Sakshi. However, the wrestlers have declined the security cover, saying if they are not safe at Jantar Mantar then they will not be safe anywhere.

Interestingly, immediately in the aftermath of the SC’s direction on Friday, the wrestlers had welcomed the move suggesting that since Singh is considered to be a “Bahubali”, he can resort to any desperate measure to end the case. Further, they have been raising his criminal past, saying that if anything untoward were to happen to the protesting wrestlers or to their families, the blame would lie with Singh.

The Delhi Police personnel came to the site where the wrestlers have been sitting in protest for the last nine days on Sunday evening. They were given tea and snacks and were asked to leave.

“We have refused the security cover,” Bajrang said. “We were thinking that if we are not safe here then we will never be safe anywhere. So till the time we are sitting here in protest we will not take this offer from the police,” he added.

However, he did not rule out taking the security cover once they leave the protest site. “We will see whether we would need a security cover at a later date, maybe once we leave from here, but we are firm we do not need security here,” he said.

To miss ranking series

The wrestlers have decided to skip another tournament as they seek to extend their protest. Bajrang, Sakshi and Vinesh have refused to send their entries for the June 1-4 ranking series in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The Indian Olympic Association had got in touch with the protesting wrestlers and wanted to take their consent before sending their names for the competition. “We have hardly trained ever since we came here so what is the point in going for a tournament when we are not ready,” Bajrang said. “We have decided to see this protest out first so everything else will come later,” he added.

This would be the fourth tournament since January, when they sat on the dharna for the first time, which the wrestlers have decided to skip. They skipped the Zagreb ranking series in February, the ranking series in Alexandria and the Asian Championships in Astana last month.

Sidhu questions delay in arrest

New Delhi: Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu, who came out to support wrestlers at Jantar Mantar, questioned why Brij Bhushan Singh has not been arrested yet despite two FIRs, including one under POCSO getting registered against Singh. Flanked by Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat, Sidhu questioned whether law is different when influential persons get accused of crimes. “The big question here is that the accused is in a powerful position. He can ruin and threaten careers. How do you expect a fair investigation under the circumstances?” Sidhu said today. TNS

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