We’ll continue protest till Brij Bhushan is arrested, say wrestlers
Nine days after the Delhi police filed a chargesheet against former Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh for alleged sexual harassment, the protesting wrestlers on Saturday said their fight against him continues and they are waiting to determine the copy of the charge sheet. on their next move.
In a joint speech from their social media accounts, top heroes Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik said that if a strong case is not made against Singh, they will resume their protest.
“We do not think our protest against Brij Bhushan is over. The government told us that the charge sheet will be filed by June 15. Our lawyer is waiting to receive a copy. We want to see if the Delhi police have made a strong case or if they tried to save him,” Vinesh said.
“We will come before the people after that, we will decide if we want to come back to protest or go to court. We have staked our career, our lives, on this fight anyway and it will continue if Brij Bhushan does not catch,” said Vinesh, a double world medalist.
It comes days after criticism that the trio was trying to take a simple, one-plus route in the trial to qualify for upcoming international tournaments.
They alleged that BJP politicians Yogeshwar Dutt and Babita Phogat, who turned wrestlers, were trying to mislead people about the protest. “They are telling people that our protest was a political protest and that we were trying to get immunity from trials. It’s really, really wrong. We are fighting to protect the girls who are engaged in warfare,” said Rio Olympics bronze medalist Sakshi Malik.
They lost Dutt, the London 2012 Olympic bronze medalist, who is a member of the Indian Olympic Association’s executive council. He had posted two videos on Friday claiming that the real reason for the protest was his exemption from the selection trials for the Asian Games and the Asian World Championships and that they had been revealed. Dutt also alleged that he was asked to join the protest and offered the post of WFI president if he did.
Dutt’s comments came after the IOA ad hoc committee exempted the six protesting wrestlers from a full selection trial, allowing them to face the winner of their division in a one-off bout to qualify.
Bajrang said: “We did not ask for a one-time trial. We just asked for more time to prepare because we were fighting for a cause and we didn’t compete for six months. We can show the letter. If you prove us wrong, we will leave the mat forever. Me and Vinesh were the only wrestlers who won world championship medals last year. All three of us won CWG gold last year and you say ‘our wrestling is over’.”
Yogeshwar made me lose rounds: Bajrang
Bajrang, who was mentored by Dutt at the Chhatrasal Stadium before their falling out, alleged that Dutt often asked him to lose innings in tournaments so that he could continue to represent India.
Bajrang’s first of four world championship medals came in 2013 at the age of 18. He won bronze in 60kg before moving to 65kg – Dutt’s weight category – and often faced Dutt in competitions.
“We are not eroding the rights of our youth, but you did,” Bajrang alleged. “I used to stay with you. In a match for the league, you said to me, ‘3-3 se lad lete hain (let’s keep the score 3-3). I said ‘whatever you decide’. In an event in Italy, we were in the final and you told me, “Bajrang, I am first, you are second”. Have you ever wondered what a junior like me would have gone through?
“After the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, you did not participate again in any competition. In 2018 you told me, “Bajrang, let me play in CWG, you are fighting in Asian Games”. You know it’s easier to win gold in CWG. I told you, “Ab mein kanta kushti ladonga. Ab mein kushti nahin de sakta.” (I will fight hard on the mat, I can’t give in anymore.) That’s when you stopped talking to me. I never wanted to say such a thing in public, but you forced me to do so,” said Bajrang.
Bajrang and Vinesh also alleged that Dutt used Brij Bhushan to change his group in trials or go ahead for internationals without trials.
“We never went to competitions without tryouts, yes. In the 2015 world championships, which was also an Olympic qualifier, you had ACL surgery a month before, but you went. I have proof. Amit Dhankar should have gone and who knows he might have qualified for the Olympics. You have betrayed the nation,” alleged Bajrang.
Vinesh said: “Yogeshwar Dutt never came to support the girls. There were many wrestlers in the first round of protest, but he used his influence to stop them from coming. They still support us. We have their messages saying they can’t come for fear of losing their jobs.”
Sakshi said that Dutt and Babita Phogat want to ensure that they have the support of the Congress. “Selection tests are not important to us, but justice is,” she said. Soon after their allegations, Dutt denied them in a live Twitter video.
“The whole wrestling fraternity knows what I’ve done for you. How did you come to Chhatrasal in 2008. I took you to outdoor camps as my partner when you were so junior to me. You wanted to fight in 57kg. I told you that I will compete in my category (65kg). Why would I do that if I had any bad intentions?” he said, addressing Bajrang.
“I competed in four Olympic Games, I had two surgeries, but I never asked for an exemption from trials…”, he said. “Their protest was against Brij Bhushan. Now they’re going after me.”
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