Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin criticises PM Modi over police manhandling wrestlers protesting at Jantar Mantar

A scuffle had allegedly broken out with some police personnel leading to head injuries to a couple of protesters.

BySouth First Desk

Published May 04, 2023 | 4:37 PMUpdated May 04, 2023 | 4:37 PM

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin criticises PM Modi over police manhandling wrestlers protesting at Jantar Mantar

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on Thursday, 4 May, hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the alleged manhandling of protesting wrestlers in Delhi, saying contrary to his “false promises” on empowering women, the BJP was “shielding” accused persons.

On Wednesday night, a scuffle had allegedly broken out between some police personnel and the protesting wrestlers at Jantar Mantar in the national capital, leading to head injuries to a couple of protesters.

The wrestlers alleged they were manhandled by the police.

Expressing shock over the “gross injustice being meted out to our champion wrestlers, who have brought glory to our nation”, Stalin said in a tweet, “This is just not done.”

The grapplers are protesting against alleged sexual harassment and intimidation by Wrestling Federation of India, WFI, president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who is also a BJP MP.

“Our Hon’ble Prime Minister keeps giving sermons on empowering women. Contrary to these false promises, torturing the victims and shielding the accused has become the hallmark of BJP as we have witnessed in the cases of Kathua, Unnao, Hathras, Bilkis Bano, etc.”

“I demand #JusticeForOurWrestlers!” he added.

Also read: IOA President PT Usha visits wrestlers protesting at Jantar Mantar

Delhi police denies allegations

Delhi Police on Thursday denied allegations that its personnel were drunk or used force against the protesting wrestlers during a late-night ruckus at Jantar Mantar between police and some grapplers.

The deputy commissioner of police (DCP), New Delhi, said five police personnel were injured in Wednesday night’s ruckus. The wrestlers, on the other hand, have alleged that they were beaten up by the police and a couple of protesters were injured in the head.

“A sufficient number of women officers were on duty during the night. On medical examination, no police personnel were found drunk. Five police personnel sustained injuries during the scuffle.

“No force was used by police personnel against the protestors. Regarding injury to one protestor, he left the hospital against medical advice and has not given a statement to the police yet,” the DCP tweeted from his official handle.

Earlier in the day, Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal said the protesters told her that police personnel were inebriated at the time of the incident.

‘Assured help’

On Wednesday, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President PT Usha, who recently faced scathing criticism for being insensitive towards the wrestlers protesting over sexual harassment and intimidation by officials, met the grapplers at the protest site and assured them of her support, saying she was first an athlete and then an administrator.

Former sprinter Usha had come down heavily on the wrestlers for resuming their protest instead of approaching the IOA to sort out their issues.

Usha left the protest site at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi without speaking with the media, but wrestler Bajrang Punia said she has assured them of help.

“Initially when she said that, we felt very bad; but then she said that her comments were misinterpreted. She said that she is first an athlete and then an administrator,” said Punia, the Tokyo Olympic Games bronze medallist.

“We told her that we want justice. We don’t have a fight with the government or Opposition or anyone else. We are sitting here for the betterment of wrestling. If this issue is resolved and if the allegations (against WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh) are proved, then there should be legal action,” he added.

When asked if Usha had come with a solution from the government or the IOA, Punia said, “Nothing of that sort”.

“She only said that she is with us.”

Also read: ‘Hurt’ wrestlers respond to remarks by PT Usha

Usha criticised wrestlers

Earlier, reacting to wrestlers’ resumption of protest, Usha, after the IOA’s Executive Committee meeting last week, had said, “Thoda toh discipline hona chahiye (there should be some discipline). Instead of coming to us, they have gone straight to the streets. It’s not good for the sport.”

IOA acting CEO Kalyan Chaubey said, “IOA President Dr PT Usha would like to say that this kind of agitation is not good for the country’s image. India has a good reputation globally. This negative publicity is not good for the country.”

Led by Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik, the protesting wrestlers, who expected support from Usha, were taken aback by her response, and said that they were “hurt”.

In their second round of protests at New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar after the initial one in January, the wrestlers are continuing the sit-in agitation demanding police action against WFI President and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh over sexual harassment and criminal intimidation allegations.

SC closes proceedings

The Supreme Court on Thursday closed the proceedings on a plea by three women wrestlers, who have levelled sexual harassment allegations against the WFI chief, after noting that FIRs have been registered and seven complainants have been provided adequate security.

A bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud refused to entertain an oral plea by the counsel representing the wrestlers that the ongoing probe be monitored by a retired or a serving high court judge.

“You came here with specific prayers for registration of FIR and security for the complainants. Now both of your prayers have been addressed. If you have any further grievances, you can very well approach the high court or the jurisdictional magistrate,” the bench, also comprising Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala, said, adding that it is closing the proceedings for now.

(With PTI inputs)