Vinesh Phogat, a prominent figure in the ongoing wrestlers’ protest, expressed confidence on Wednesday that they will win the fight for justice. “We are confident we will win the fight for justice. We will make our best effort so that not just the global wrestling community gets to know about our plight but we will also reach out to athletes in other disciplines. No country has remained untouched by incidents of sexual harassment in sport,” she said.
The protesting wrestlers are fully focused on receiving justice from the court, and the findings of the Oversight Committee constituted by the Sports Ministry are no longer relevant, according to them. The Sports Ministry had established a six-member panel headed by MC Mary Kom on January 23 to submit its findings on allegations of sexual harassment against former Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, made by seven women wrestlers. In the first week of April, the committee submitted its report, but the ministry is yet to make the findings public.
Asked if she was aware of the committee’s results, 2018 Jakarta Asian Games gold medallist Vinesh Phogat said, “That is past. We are not deliberating or thinking on what the committee has done or hasn’t. The duration of the committee was three months…it’s over now and the fight has gone to court, so we will focus on that.” She also criticised those trying to give the protest a political colour and added that the decision to be taken by the senior khap panchayat leaders on May 21 would be crucial in their fight against Brij Bhushan.
The wrestlers’ protest, demanding the arrest of Brij Bhushan, entered its 25th day with no apparent solution in sight. The grapplers and their supporters took out a procession from Jantar Mantar to Bangla Sahib Gurudwara and offered prayers there. Vinesh also stated that they may take their agitation to Ram Lila ground to make it a “national movement.”
During the march, Olympic and World Championship medallist Bajrang Punia appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah to intervene and ensure justice for the female wrestlers. The wrestlers visited the Hanuman temple near Connaught Place accompanied by Bhim Army president Chandrashekhar Azad and hundreds of supporters on Tuesday. “This protest is not a platform for political parties. Every citizen of the country is free to visit Jantar Mantar. We welcome everyone at the protest site without discriminating on party, religion, or caste lines,” Vinesh said.