Politicians and sportspersons condemn police action and detention of protesting wrestlers

New Delhi: The dramatic detention of protesting wrestlers by Delhi Police on Sunday was condemned by several politicians and former sportspersons who termed the act as “shame on the government”.

Top wrestlers, including the likes of Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia, were detained for violation of law and order after they breached the security cordon while trying to move towards the new Parliament building for a planned women’s ‘Mahapanchayat’.

“Strongly condemn the way Delhi Police manhandled Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat and other wrestlers. It’s shameful our champions are treated in this manner,” West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted.

“Democracy lies in tolerance but autocratic forces thrive on intolerance and quelling of dissent. I demand they be immediately released by police. I stand by our wrestlers.”

Communist Party of India (Marxist) termed the police action as “shame on this Govt.”

“Delhi Police have detailed women wrestlers! Medal winning wrestlers bundled into buses and detained for fighting sexual harassment while man accused will be sitting in new parliament building. Shame!”

Chaotic scenes were witnessed at the protest site at Jantar Mantar as wrestlers and police officers shoved and pushed each other when Vinesh Phogat, her cousin sister Sangeeta Phogat and Sakshi Malik tried to breach the barricades.

Vinesh provided a strong resistance against her detention and Sangeeta clung on to her cousin sister while lying on the road as the struggle continued for a few dramatic minutes.

The police officials dragged and lifted them into buses along with several other wresters and their supporters. The wrestlers were pushed into buses and taken to different unknown locations.

The champion wrestlers had resumed their agitation against former Wresting Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh on April 23, demanding his arrest for alleged sexual harassment of several women grapplers, including a minor.

The police had warned the wrestlers not to move towards Parliament but they went ahead, leading to the scuffle.

Rajasthan Congress MLA and 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games discus throw gold medallist Krishna Poonia too condemned the police action.

“The most shameful video of Indian sports and democracy. I condemn the manner in which police dragged our gold medallist wrestlers who have brought laurels for our country and in this fight for truth and justice, I stand with my sisters,” she tweeted.

TMC MLA and former India cricketer Manoj Tiwary said: “So, this is what you call #AzadiKaAmritMahotsav? Shame! The nation is with you #wrestlers!”