Kapil Dev, Harbhajan Singh, Virender Sehwag, and others have shown their support for the Protesting Wrestlers in India who have accused the wrestling federation chief of sexual harassment.
Protesting Wrestlers in India: Cricketers Express Solidarity
Kapil Dev, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Irfan Pathan, and Shikha Pandey have spoken out about the ongoing Protesting Wrestlers in India, who are demanding the removal of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the chief of the Indian wrestling federation. The wrestlers have accused Singh of sexually abusing and exploiting female wrestlers for the past ten years. These cricketers are the first to break their silence on the matter.
The Delhi Police agreed to investigate the allegations against Singh on Friday afternoon, a week after the complaint was initially filed and only after the wrestlers approached the Supreme Court for assistance. However, the wrestlers’ primary goal is to remove Singh from his position as federation chief and bring attention to the accusations against him.
“Will they ever get justice,” Kapil asked in an Instagram post with a photograph of Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik – the latter two Olympic medalists – who have been leading a protest at New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar for the past five days. They were part of a group of 30-odd wrestlers at Jantar Mantar in January this year, too, when they made public the allegations against Singh, a member of parliament from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
Afterward, the union sports ministry, led by former BCCI president Anurag Thakur, assigned its oversight committee, which included Olympic Games medalists such as boxer MC Mary Kom and wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt (Mary Kom is also a former member of parliament), to investigate the matter and present their findings by February. According to reports and protesting wrestlers in India, even after two months, the wrestlers have not been given access to the oversight committee’s findings.
Based on Protesting Wrestlers in India, they have received very little support throughout their protest. PT Usha, the former champion athlete of the 1980s and current president of the Indian Olympic Association, referred to the Protesting Wrestlers in India’ behaviour as “indiscipline” and stated that it was “not good for sport” on Thursday. Her remarks were met with strong public backlash, and Punia expressed disappointment at the “harsh response.”
On Friday, Phogat made a request to the Indian cricket community, questioning their silence on the struggles faced by protesting wrestlers in India.
“You do come forward to congratulate us when we win something. Even the cricketers tweet when that happens. Abhi kya ho gaya [What has happened now]? Are you so afraid of the system? Or maybe there’s something fishy going on there too?” – Vinesh Phogat
“The entire country worships cricket but not even a single cricketer has spoken up,” the Indian Express quoted Phogat as saying – “We aren’t saying that you speak in our favour, but at least put up a neutral message and say there should be justice for whichever party. This is what pains me… Be it cricketers, badminton players, athletics, boxing…
“It’s not like we don’t have big athletes in our country. There are cricketers… During the Black Lives Matter movement in the US, they showed their support. Don’t we deserve even that much?
“You do come forward to congratulate us when we win something. Even the cricketers tweet when that happens. Abhi kya ho gaya [What has happened now]? Are you so afraid of the system? Or maybe there’s something fishy going on there too?“
While Kapil’s message had come a day before, on Thursday, Harbhajan tweeted on Friday, “I am pained as a sportsperson to find pride of our country coming out to protest on the streets”, while Sehwag wrote, “It’s a sensitive matter and needs an impartial investigation”, and Pathan said, “Indian athletes are always our pride not only when they get medals for us…”.
Later on Friday evening, Pandey tweeted her support for the wrestlers too, hoping “that justice shall be served at the earliest.“
When this report was filed, Pandey was the only present Indian cricketer to address the issue.
On Friday, Phogat’s appeal received a response from some of India’s most renowned athletes who expressed their support for the protesting wrestlers through tweets.
“What’s happening [the street protests] should never have happened,” Neeraj Chopra, the Olympic javelin throw champion, said. “This is a sensitive issue, and must be dealt with in an impartial and transparent manner.” And Nikhat Zareen, the two-time world champion boxer, wrote, “It breaks my heart to see our Olympic & World medallists in this state.“
A day before, Abhinav Bindra, the shooter who won India’s first individual gold medal at an Olympic Games back in 2008, tweeted, “It is deeply concerning to see our athletes finding it necessary to protest on the streets regarding the allegations of harassment in the Indian wrestling administration.“
The report was revised at GMT 1410 following a tweet by Shikha Pandey showing her support for the wrestlers.
Get IPL 2023 Live Score along with Points Table & Schedule Updates at IceCric.News and Follow for Live Updates – Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.