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Wrestlers’ protest reaches Haridwar as grapplers prepare to immerse medals in Ganga river-Sports News , Firstpost


On Tuesday, a huge crowd gathered in Har ki Pauri as the protesting wrestlers got ready to immerse their world and Olympic medals in the holy waters as a mark of the protest. Image: PTI

India’s top wrestlers, including Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia reached Haridwar on Tuesday evening to immerse their medals at the Ganga river, while the police strengthened security arrangements.

The wrestlers are currently protesting against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president, who has been accused of alleged sexual assault.

While the protests that resumed on 23 April at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi have been going on for over a month now, the wrestlers, along with support from the women and youth had planned a Mahila Mahapanchayat on 28 May outside the new Parliament building. However, during their march from Jantar Mantar to the new Parliament building, the wrestlers were detained by Delhi Police and an FIR had been registered against the athletes.

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On Tuesday, a huge crowd gathered in Har ki Pauri as the protesting wrestlers got ready to immerse their world and Olympic medals in the holy waters as a mark of the protest.

Sakshi, Vinesh and her cousin Sangeeta were seen sobbing as their husbands tried to console them even as scores of their supporters formed a cordon around them.

The wrestlers stood for about 20 minutes in silence after reaching Har ki Pauri. They then sat on the banks of the river holding their citations and looking emotionally distressed.

The wrestlers said they will immerse their hard-earned medals and sit on a hunger strike “until death” at the India Gate.

However, the Delhi Police said on Tuesday that they will not be allowed to protest at India Gate as it is a “national monument and not a site for demonstrations”.

Earlier, Sakshi, bronze medallist at the 2016 Rio Olympics, had said in a statement on her Twitter handle that the wrestlers will go to Haridwar to immerse the medals.

“These medals are our life and soul. We are going to immerse them in the Ganges because she is Maa Ganga. After that, there is no point of living, so we will sit on a hunger strike until death at India Gate,” she had said in the statement in Hindi. The same statement was also shared by her Vinesh.

Tuesday is the day of Ganga Dussera and a lot of people are expected at the banks to offer prayers.

“We have won these medals with the same purity as the holy Ganga. These medals are holy for the entire country and there can’t be a better place to keep them than in the holy Ganga rather than it acting as a mask for the unholy system which is siding with the wrongdoer,” Sakshi said.

“India Gate is the place of those martyrs who sacrificed themselves for the country. We are not as holy as them but our emotions while playing at the international level are similar to those soldiers.”

Sakshi said as the “system kept trying to scare the victims and stop the protest” instead of “catching the harasser”, the wrestlers felt the medals have no value and wanted to return them.

She wished president Draupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had addressed the issue.

“We don’t want these medals now because by making us wear them this shiny system is using it as a mask for its own publicity while exploiting us. If we speak against this exploitation, it prepares to send us to jail.”

With inputs from PTI 

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