Farmers convene mahapanchayat to address wrestlers' #MeToo protest against WFI chief
New Delhi, June 01: The ongoing protests by several wrestlers against the former Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, persist despite the government's call for trust in the ongoing police investigation. In response, farmers have organized a 'mahapanchayat' today to discuss the matter further. Here are ten key facts surrounding this significant development:
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) has announced that a large gathering of all 'khaps' (clans) will take place in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, to address the sexual harassment allegations leveled against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh by the protesting wrestlers.
Naresh Tikait, a prominent leader of the BKU, has confirmed the participation of representatives from various 'khaps,' as well as their heads, from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Delhi in the mahapanchayat.
Naresh Tikait played a crucial role in persuading some of India's renowned wrestlers, including Olympic medallists Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia, and Asian Games gold medallist Vinesh Phogat, not to immerse their medals in the Ganga River on Tuesday.
In response to the lack of action taken against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the wrestlers had initially threatened to discard their medals. However, they refrained from doing so after being convinced by farmer leaders who granted the police a five-day deadline to address the issue.
The wrestlers have been vociferously protesting since January, demanding justice and action against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, whom they accused of sexually harassing seven athletes, including a minor.
Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, a Member of Parliament from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has categorically denied all allegations and publicly stated that he would take his own life if the charges against him were proven.
Speaking to the wrestlers, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh asserted, "If a single allegation against me is proven, I will hang myself. If you (wrestlers) have any evidence, present it to the Court, and I am ready to accept any punishment."
Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur recently accused the protesting wrestlers of "changing goalposts" and urged them not to take any actions that would harm the sport or other athletes. This marked the government's first official comment on the matter in recent days.
Minister Anurag Thakur also pointed out that the athletes themselves had initially emphasized that their platform was not intended for political purposes. However, opposition leaders later visited the wrestlers' protest site at Delhi's Jantar Mantar, leading to speculation about political involvement.
Internationally, the United World Wrestling (UWW), the governing body of the sport, expressed dissatisfaction with the progress of the investigations against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. The UWW reminded the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) of its commitment to hold fresh elections for the WFI within 45 days and warned that the failure to do so might result in the federation's suspension.
The 'mahapanchayat' organized by the farmers holds significant importance as it aims to address the serious allegations made by the wrestlers and seeks a resolution to this ongoing issue that has garnered attention both nationally and internationally.
- With inputs from agencies