By Sushil Kutty
A farmer – ‘Bharat ka kisan’ – prevented the hard won gold, silver and bronze medals of the protesting wrestlers from immersion in the polluted waters of the Holy Ganga at Haridwar. This, after the wrestlers refused to take lying down any further the Centre’s intransigence. Even otherwise, the Delhi Police had removed the last traces of the protest from Jantar Mantar, an example of the panic that gripped the Modi government on ‘Sengol Day’, May 28.
Now, to add salt to insult and injury (sustained from being dragged on the road), Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Anurag Thakur has asked the wronged wrestlers to not do harm to the sport of wrestling. Of all the gall! What does the Sports Minister know of doing harm? Doesn’t Thakur know that harm to the sport of wrestling has already been done and female wrestlers have been shouting from the rooftop against the depredations of the alleged sexual predator MP who heads the Wrestling Federation of India?
What’s so sacred about WFI Chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh that not even the installation of the “righteous dharam-dhand” in the Lok Sabha gives courage to the Modi government to sit him down and read him excerpts from the riot act? Ministers like Thakur should be at the forefront demanding Prime Minister Narendra Modi do his duty. The sport of wrestling has been mauled beyond repair because of the Modi Government’s total disregard for the rule of law.
Otherwise, what stopped the Delhi Police from hauling the WFI Chief to the police lockup, instead of lining up frivolous excuses to keep him out of jail? If jailed AAP ex-education minister Manish Sisodia is denied bail on grounds that given bail Sisodia will tamper with evidence and scare witnesses, doesn’t the same apply to the BJP MP who allegedly is a terror in the Lok Sabha seats around Ayodhya and a “bahubali” of no mean notoriety?
For Minister Thakur to say that “the wrestlers should wait for Delhi Police to conclude their investigation and not take any steps that will cause harm to the sport and aspiring wrestlers…we all are in favour of the sport and sportspersons” is a slap on the fair face of wrestling. Also, wait for how long? How about till the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, which is when the BJP will want the “bahubali” services of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh to work his “bahubali” magic on the electorate of at least five/six parliamentary constituencies?
Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh is a former wrestler and they say he’s particularly effective in taking vindictive retaliatory action. Voters in his neck of the cow-belt tremble at what he is capable of doing to those who don’t vote according to his call. In short, it is not Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath who are ‘Boss’. No, the so-called BJP vote-bank is at the beck and call of “bahubalis” like the WFI head.
And, Prime Minister Narendra Modi being Modi, neither he nor Home Minister Amit Shah nor Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will dare to take action against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. This Prime Minister of India is scared he will not be prime minister for a third time running if he tries the “beti bachao” scam on Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
So, Anurag Thakur is forced to hide behind “Khelo India” and “Target Olympics Podium Scheme (TOPS)” to keep MPs like Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh the face of Indian sport! But can a sexual predator be allowed free rein to demand quid pro quo – “something for something” – from aspiring wrestlers wanting to reach the Olympic podium? The protesting female wrestlers had kept their mouths shut for decades and now they have decided enough is enough.
Stung, Sports Minister Anurag Thakur spoke volumes on the crores of rupees the government spent on training sportspersons; he spoke of “300 significant sports infrastructures” blah blah blah…but the question still sticks in the gullet: Does all these mean the female wrestlers should go for a quid pro quo with their bodies, and their honour? No minor girl will want POCSO added to her name, not after she’s told what POCSO boils down to. To the minor sexual misdemeanour survivor, there is nothing edifying about POCSO; however, to her, POCSO is the only recourse to ensure she gets justice and the perpetrator – who this government is trying to save – the punishment he so richly deserves.
Against this, Anurag Thakur’s “on the demands of wrestlers, we created a committee… Committee submitted their report, after that Delhi Police filed an FIR… whatever they demanded we didn’t leave anything out” is poor defence. Anurag Thakur’s “we also want fair investigation into the matter” and “elections will be soon held for the post of WFI President” is beating around the bush at its best. There is nothing sporting about Anurag Thakur, who is also I&B Minister. (IPA Service)