Protesting wrestlers win support from farmers

After getting support from the opposition, the protesting wrestlers demanding the arrest of WFI chief Brij Bhushan Singh got support from the farmers' body Samyukta Kisan Morcha.

Protesting wrestlers win support from farmers

Support has been pouring in for the protesting wrestlers staging a sit-in demonstration in the capital New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar area, however, their demands, especially of arresting Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Singh, have not yet been addressed by the Union government.

After gaining support from the Opposition camp and some prominent sportspersons, the protesting wrestlers have now won the support of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of several prominent farmers’ unions, which had spearheaded a year-long sit-in demonstration against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three contentious farm laws, forcing the government to repeal them.

The SKM has decided to stage nationwide protests in support of the protesting wrestlers who are demanding that the Modi government arrest WFI president Singh, who happens to be an influential member of the Parliament belonging to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

In view of the SKM’s decision to hold protests, security has been beefed up in New Delhi, as the government doesn’t want a large gathering to take place in support of the protesting wrestlers. The wrestlers, most of whom had earlier supported the BJP and opposed other movements against the government, are not willing to retreat from their demand.

The protesting wrestlers had first hit the streets in January, demanding action against Singh. However, the BJP government managed to persuade them with promises of stern action against WFI chief Singh following an investigation. The wrestlers allege that the government took no action for months, forcing them to return to the streets on April 23rd.

While the protesting wrestlers, apparently due to their ties with the BJP, shooed away the Opposition camp’s politicians from their protest site in January, they didn’t oppose their support in the new tranche of their movement.

So far, different civil society organisations, political parties, and women’s rights organisations have extended their support to the protesting wrestlers. Even the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president and former athlete PT Usha met the protesting wrestlers at Jantar Mantar after she faced public wrath for vehemently opposing their movement.

Although the BJP-led Union government wasn’t perturbed by the protest and didn’t sack Singh or take any step to arrest him in January. However, when its inaction stirred unrest and the grapplers returned to Jantar Mantar in April, to avoid public ignominy it had the Delhi Police file a first information report (FIR) following a notice from the Supreme Court.

The protesting wrestlers—including Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Sakshee Mallik—have alleged that six women wrestlers, and a minor, had filed complaints against Singh at New Delhi’s Connaught Place Police Station, accusing him of sexual harassment, yet no FIR was registered by the Delhi Police.

Although the Delhi Police lodged an FIR on April 28th, the grapplers have stated they will continue their protest until Singh is arrested. However, due to its political compulsions, the BJP remains reluctant to disturb its equation with its strongman MP Singh who has allegedly turned the WFI into his fiefdom.

Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur has skirted the questions regarding Singh’s arrest and his ouster from the WFI. He told the press on Friday, May 5th, that the Union government is going to carry on an unbiased investigation into the charges framed by the protesting wrestlers, however, he refused to divulge any timeline within which such investigations will conclude.

With the SKM exhibiting solidarity, the protesting wrestlers are now posing a major challenge to the Modi government, especially in the BJP strongholds in Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, where the movement against Singh can have stronger implications and can cause political damage to the BJP’s prospects. The farmers’ movement in 2020-21 has already caused a landslide in the BJP’s vote bank, which experts fear may intensify unless the Modi government takes some stern action against the accused.

Leave a comment
scroll to top