Ace wrestlers holding a protest at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar have alleged that a group of drunk Delhi Police personnel targeted them late this evening when they wanted to bring in mattresses to sleep at night after the daylong rains. The policemen beat them up and abused the women wrestlers, they said. Several grapplers were hit on the head and two of them sustained injuries. One person who fell unconscious had to be taken to the hospital.
In an official statement, the Delhi Police said: “During the protest at Jantar Mantar, Mr. Somnath Bharti came at the protest site along with folding beds without permission. On intervention, the supporters became aggressive in trying to get the beds out of the truck. Subsequently, a minor altercation took place in which Somnath Bharti along with 2 others was detained”.
Such violence is a first for Jantar Mantar, the designated protest site of the national capital. Visuals from the spot close to midnight showed the wrestlers arguing with uniformed members of the Delhi Police. Many, on camera, identified one of the policemen who allegedly targeted them. The injured wrestler was later identified as Rahul Rao.
“A drunk policeman, Dharemendra, abused Vinesh Phogat and got involved in a scuffle with us,” former wrestler Rajveer was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India.
“We were trying to set up wooden foldable beds since the floor was wet. The cop jumped in and stopped us – didn’t wait for a woman cop and just started pushing us. Some of us were hit on the head with a stick,” Olympian Vinesh Phogat said at an impromptu post-midnight press conference. “Did we win medals for the nation to see such days… Where were the women cops when the constable was pushing us around?” she added, breaking down.
Ace wrestler Bajrang Punia broke down in an exclusive interview with NDTV. “I request the government that it take back all the medals I have won,” he said.
Senior Aam Aadmi Party leader Somnath Bharti said he was detained by the police for supporting the wrestlers’ demand for mattresses .
Strange is the situation,BJP’s MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh is out n enjoying in spite of having a Pocso FIR against him but just because I supported d demand of women wrestlers for a foldable cot to avoid rain wrenched site of Jantar Mantar, I hv bn detained in Mandir Marg PS. https://t.co/CtDmf5DFzqpic.twitter.com/v6ClVXLByO
— Adv. Somnath Bharti: इंसानियत से बड़ा कुछ नहीं! (@attorneybharti) May 3, 2023
“We are getting news from the sources that the wrestlers and their associates have been attacked by the police at Jantar Mantar. This is a direct mess with our honor! Brothers and sisters of our country have to come forward for the rights of sister and daughter! Will go to Jantar Mantar in the morning!” tweeted Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Jayant Singh.
“The police attack on wrestlers at Jantar Mantar in which my younger brother Dushyant Phogat’s head was cracked open and another wrestler was also injured is very shameful,” read a rough translation of a Hindi tweet from Olympian and Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist Geeta Phogat.
जंतर-मंतर पर पुलिस द्वारा पहलवानों पर हमला जिसमें मेरे छोटे भाई दुष्यंत फौगाट का सिर फोड़ दिया गया है और एक अन्य पहलवान को भी चोट आयी है ये बहुत ही शर्मनाक है
— geeta phogat (@geeta_phogat) May 3, 2023
The wrestlers have been staging a protesting at the site for 11 days, demanding the removal of BJP MP and chief of the country’s wrestling federation Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, accusing him of sexually harassing some of the top wrestlers.
With inputs from NDTV