‘If Bhushan attends inauguration of new Parliament, then you can understand where country is heading’

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IMAGE: Top wrestlers have been staging a sit-in since April 23 and Vinesh Phogat said if Brij Bhushan attends the inauguration of the new Parliament then it’ll send a clear message. Photograph: PTI

Vinesh Phogat on Friday said if WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh attends the inauguration of the new Parliament building on May 28, it will send a clear message about the state of affairs in the country. 

Top wrestlers including Vinesh and Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik, have been staging a sit-in at Jantar Mantar in Delhi since April 23, demanding Singh’s arrest for allegedly sexually harassing seven women grapplers, including a minor.

As part of their fight against Singh, the protesting wrestlers will now hold a women’s Mahapanchayat before the new Parliament building on Sunday, the day of its inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“If Brij Bhushan is there at the new Parliament on May 28, then the whole country will automatically get the message,” Vinesh said when asked what kind of message it will convey if WFI chief is present during the inauguration.

 

“Whosoever is trying to save Brij Bhushan, is against us. I don’t know what is happening internally in the government but someone is trying to shield him and it is not right, he is harming the women of this country.”

Asked if it is a demand of the wrestlers to not allow Singh to attend the inauguration of the new Parliament building, Vinesh tried to make her point with an example.

“When a letter was issued against me for indiscipline after Tokyo Olympics and on the basis of that, if he can stop me from meeting the Prime Minister, can get my name removed from the list, then just imagine, there are so many allegations against him.

“Even after all that if he attends the Parliament on Sunday then you can understand where the country is heading.”

The protesting wrestlers are, however, yet to get permission from the Delhi Police for the Mahapanchayat.

“Why won’t we get permission. We are the citizens of this country and if police stops us then I would request all to just sit there and start the panchayat,” Bajrang said.

Asked how can they proceed with the Mahapanchayat if they don’t get the permission, Vinesh said: “Law is for the people. I know there is an event of PM but who will give justice to the daughters of this country?

“If people like Brij Bhushan sit in the Parliament, then definitely our seniors will be angry but we are not going inside Parliament. We will do everything in a peaceful manner.”

Asked if someone tries to sabotage the protest, Vinesh said: “We are aware that some people can try to derail the protest. So many things are going on, Brij Bhushan was telling that our protest is being funded by Canada.

“Soon, we will be called Khalistani, tukra-tukra gang and also desh drohi (traitor) and also try us to send to Pakistan but it is okay, the people of this country can differentiate between right and wrong.”

The Delhi Police has filed two FIRs against the WFI president. While the first FIR relates to allegations by the minor wrestler and has been registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, the second is related to outraging modesty.

On Thursday, Brij Bhushan said the law is being “misused” and under the leadership of seers, “we will force the government to change” it.

“So many people have fought for this act. Every day we come across so many news of five-year-old and six-year-old girls getting raped, if POCSO is banned, who will give justice to these girls?,” Vinesh said.

“This act came into existence after a lot of deliberation. What does he want that people like him keep exploiting women and no one can punish them, so ban POCSO.

“Any true citizen would want a strong law so that such people should be punished and he wants it removed. Just for him, it can’t be banned and he will be punished for what he has done.”

Giving details of Sunday’s women’s Mahapanchayat, Sakshi said: “All the women’s and student organisations will reach Jantar Mantar by 11am. We will be non-violent and peaceful at all cost. If Police use tear gas we will endure everything.

“If we are arrested, we will willfully get arrested. We invite all women to attend the Mahapanchayat. The women of the country can take some big decision on that day. I request all to maintain peace.”

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