Countrywide Solidarity with Wrestlers Protest at Jantar Mantar

On Tuesday, May 16, hundreds of women and farmers from Punjab, Haryana, UP and Bihar as part of national call by All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) and All India Kisan Mahasabha (AIKM) reached Jantar Mantar to stand in solidarity with the wrestlers protest for justice. For weeks, several Olympic medal winning wrestlers have been protesting demanding action against the BJP MP and WFI Chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh for sexual harassment.

Meena Tiwari, general secretary of AIPWA saluting the resistance by the wrestlers said that three weeks have elapsed since the FIRs were lodged against the BJP's MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh following the Supreme Court's intervention. But till now, Delhi police has not even initiated interrogation of the accused, let alone arrest, despite serious allegations of sexual harassment.

Also pertinent is that one of the seven complainants is a minor and hence one of the two FIRs has been filed under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and yet Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh is roaming free, holding press conferences to threaten the wrestlers.

“It is clear that patronage and impunity is being extended to Brij Bhushan by BJP and Modi government, otherwise why there is delay in action against him?” noted Rajaram Singh, General Secretary of AIKM. He added that the farmers of this country had witnessed the Modi government’s apathy towards the call for justice and rights. Today, we witness the same with wrestlers’ demand for justice.

“The farmers and workers of this country are behind our wrestlers and their struggle for justice,” said Jasbir Kaur of AIKM, who had spent almost a year living at Tikri border and leading with the farmers movement.

Sashi Yadav of AICCTU saluting the courageous struggle of the women wrestlers said that wrestlers’ protest will strengthen the battle for gender justice in the country.

Sakshi Malik, first Indian female wrestler to win a medal at the Olympics and one of the protesting wrestlers, thanking the large number of women gathered at Jantar Mantar from various states said that “we need to win this battle for gender justice. If we lose this struggle, the daughters of this country will be pushed 50 years back in the society. This is battle for the future of India”

Earlier on May 15, under the banner of All India Agricultural Rural Labour Association (AIARLA) a delegating met the protesting wrestlers to express the solidarity. Radhika of AIARLA said that when these wrestlers win medal we see Modi government and its leaders rushing to click photos with them, but when the wrestlers raise the voice for justice none of the BJP leaders are seen anywhere. What we see instead is a concentrated effort by the BJP to delegitimise the protest.

“We are sure that as you wrestle towards victory in the wrestling ring, your struggle will wrestle towards ensuring gender justice in the field of sports and across,” added Radhika addressing the wrestlers.

Campaigns and protests in solidarity with the wrestlers dharma have been intensifying across the country. On May 14, hundreds of women farmers from Haryana marched towards the Jantar Mantar in solidarity. On May 12, a joint protest march was organised in Jhunjhunu, Rajashtan by CPIML, AIKM and other Left Parties and civil society groups demanding action against Brij Bhushan for sexual harassment. In Uttar Pradesh’s Sitapur also a protest demonstration in solidarity with wrestlers’ protest was organised on May 11.

In a statement issued by AICCTU and other central unions on May 8, 2023, the Joint Platform extended its solidarity with the wrestlers’ protest and demanded immediate arrest of Brij Bhushan Singh. The statement further noted that the voice raised by the wrestlers is the voice for justice to all our female folk who face harassment and are not only not heard, but are further made to face the torture and wrath of the society when the perpetrator is in a position of power.

Protests have been held in hundreds of towns and villages in support of the wrestlers and continuing.