Two meetings in four days – one by union home minister Amit Shah and a “follow-up” by sports minister Anurag Thakur – and the promise of a chargesheet rather than immediate arrest: this is how the government brought protesting wrestlers on board for a “compromise” at the moment.
Government sources told News18 that it was impressed upon the wrestlers that WFI chief Brij Bhushan Singh’s arrest was a call to be made by investigators and not the government, and the “priority” instead was the finishing the probe.
The wrestlers have been adamant on the precondition that Singh be arrested for them to call off their protest. On Wednesday, however, they agreed to the government’s option and were not persistent on the arrest demand. The government instead promised that a chargesheet will be filed by June 15 and, subsequently, the courts will take a view on it.
Earlier last Saturday, when the wrestlers had met Shah in a late-night meeting, the home minister had apparently told them to “let the law take its own course” with regard to the WFI chief’s arrest; he also listened to other demands put forward by the protesters. The sports minister subsequently held another meeting with the wrestlers on Wednesday to work out the nitty-gritty of the compromise formula.
“Let the chargesheet be filed by June 15 and then the court will take a view on it and determine the next steps. The complainants can also lay their case before the court,” a government source told News18.
The deal was sweetened with the government agreeing to most demands made by the wrestlers – like elections to the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) by June 30 and Singh’s family members or close aides not being allowed to be involved in the election process.
This was a concern expressed by wrestlers that Singh could foist a family member or a close aide as the next president, after serving three continuous terms. The government also agreed to form an internal complaints committee (ICC) within the WFI, which will be headed by a woman and ensure the security of female wrestlers. The government has also agreed to withdraw cases lodged against the wrestlers and other protestors.
The wrestlers have agreed to suspend their protest till June 15, awaiting the chargesheet against Brij Bhushan Singh. A lot will depend on what charges the Delhi Police brings against the BJP MP and if the POCSO charges will continue to hold ground in the chargesheet.