AIPWA, AISA, AICCTU and AILAJ Join Protest of Indian Wrestlers

A team of AISA-AIPWA-AILAJ went to Jantar Mantar on 26 April in solidarity with the protesting wrestlers and to demand that Brij Bhushan Saran be immediately sacked from WFI Chairpersonship, immediately file an FIR and initiate action against him. These organisations appealed to the entire section of the society to support the cause of the protesting wrestlers in their fight against sexual harassment, institutional impunity and utter abuse of power.

A statement issued jointly stated that these brave wrestlers are confronting immense harassment and mental torture, social boycott, even the risk of having their entire careers destroyed because they refuse to bear injustice anymore. 2016 Olympic medalist Sakshi Malik, the first woman wrestler to have accomplished this feat; Asian and Commonwealth Games medalist Vinesh Phogat, Olympic medalist Bajrang Punia and many other wrestlers who have put their blood, sweat and tears in the service of their sport are protesting against sexual harassment by the WFI Chief. "This fight", one of them said, "is not just to demand justice for their own selves, but for all generations of athletes and women that will succeed them! Neither the open sky above nor the ground beneath fazes them, they are the sons and daughters of India's farmers and they will only rest once justice is served!"

Seven wrestlers have filed a complaint of sexual harassment against Brij Bhushan Sharan at the Connaught Place Police station. In a bid to dissuade complainants, the Delhi Police has refused to file an FIR and in a gross violation of confidentiality, the names of the seven complainants, which includes a minor, have been leaked in the public domain for further harassment at the hands of the Sangh's ecosystem. In January this year, these wrestlers had come to Delhi's Jantar Mantar demanding action against Brij Bhushan when they were pacified with false assurances of enquiry and quick action. Three months later, Brij Bhushan Sharan has appeared in numerous national news media channels to shamelessly defend himself against the allegations while the enquiry is still pending and simultaneously the women wrestlers have been ostracised within the WFI and threats have been issued not just on their career but also on their life and that of their family members. On one hand, the accused enjoys complete support from the BJP's leadership and ecosystem and on the other hand, the Delhi Police is complicit in shielding him. In a shameless violations of the principles of natural justice, attempts are at large to paint complainants as culprits by asking them to provide evidence of their sexual harassment instead of filing an FIR and conducting impartial enquiry The influence that the accused has within the WFI is immense and as pointed out by Vinesh Phogat, any criticism or complaint is met with immediate social boycott and sabotage of the complainant's career. These athletes who were until very recently being lauded for their medals are now being publicly hounded, harassed and humiliated. Just because they refused to remain silent spectators to this injustice? Just because they demanded justice? And all this for what? To shield a sexual harasser? Why? Because he is a member of the ruling party?

The blatant shielding of Brij Bhushan by the Modi government reminds us of the shielding of Unnao MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar, the shielding of Kathua rape accused,the freedom granted to rapists of Bilkis Bano by BJP led Gujarat Government. Under the same BJP government, women of BHU have faced lathi charge for protesting against sexual harassment and demanding GSCASH. It appears, the Modi government mastered the art of ‘Harasser Bachao, balatkari bachao’.