Media helping WFI chief Brij Bhushan more than us: Protesting wrestlers

Sportspersons ask media not to give Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh a platform to speak

Wrestlers' protest, Delhi police, sexual harassment allegations, Jantar Mantar
The wrestlers have complained of non-cooperation from the authorities, who they have accused of severing power and water supply at the protest site at night | File photo

The protesting wrestlers on Sunday (April 30) alleged that the media was helping Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who they have accused of sexual harassment, more than helping them. The athletes said newspersons should not give him a platform to speak.

The WFI chief has vowed to contest the charges and claimed that the athletes’ protest was politically motivated.

The Delhi Police has filed two FIRs, including one under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) Act, against the BJP MP, since one of the complainants is minor. Singh has completed 12 years as WFI president and is ineligible to become an office bearer again.

Also read: Wrestlers allege ‘torture’, say no food, water at protest site; Kejriwal extends support

Olympic medallists vs. MPs

“The media is supporting Brij Bhushan more than the players. You see his criminal records. Does any player, sitting here, or players from other sports, have a criminal record?” wrestler Bajrang Punia asked during a media interaction.

The Tokyo Games bronze medallist sought to convey the message that it’s more difficult to win an Olympic medal than becoming a Member of Parliament in this country.

“The players win medals for the country, and he is questioning the medal winners. How many people become MPs in this country, and how many people win Olympic medals? To date, there are hardly 40 Olympic medallists, and thousands have become MPs,” he said.

Also read: Wrestlers’ protest: Kapil Sibal raises question of ‘pliant investigation’

“No politics”

Double World Championships medallist Vinesh Phogat said Brij Bhushan’s charge that the wrestlers are involved in politics is baseless.

“We are not involved in any politics. We speak straight from the heart and it connects, and that is why so many people are sitting here in our support.”

She also appealed to the media to not give Brij Bhushan a platform to speak.

“How can you give such a criminal a platform? Ask yourself. If you do not do that, half of the problems will be solved. That man is still saying things with a smile on his face. His ego is bigger than Ravan (villain in epic Ramayana),” Phogat said, much to the amazement of the gathered mediapersons who have been giving the protesting wrestlers coverage ever since they began their protest.

“If he comes out clean in (the) Supreme Court’s order, you can garland him. He is still being garlanded. What has he done? When we win medals, we are garlanded. He has exploited women athletes, and he is being felicitated. I request that you do not give him that platform,” she added.

Also read: WFI chief showers praise on Akhilesh Yadav for not siding with protesting wrestlers

On Singh’s claims

Singh has claimed that the wrestlers want to take over the WFI and thus the protest was happening, and that only one family (Phogats) is behind the protest. Bajrang countered the charge.

“If you are in WFI, you have to be a member of a state association. We don’t want control of WFI. His son is president of UP Association, and the secretary is his son’s brother-in-law. His son-in-law is also a member of (a) state association. He is accusing us of parivaarwaad while actually it is applicable in his case,” said Punia.

The wrestlers have complained of non-cooperation from the authorities, who they have accused of severing power and water supply at the protest site at night.

Watch: Icons react to wrestlers’ protest | PT Usha faces backlash

“Stay here at night”

Asked if the situation has got any better, Phogat shot back: “Do you stay here during the night? I request all of you stay here and then I will ask you how much the authorities are helping us.”

Asked how they would prepare for the upcoming Asian Games if they continued to sit in protest, Punia said, “We are trying to train a bit here. But getting justice for the daughters of the country will be bigger than winning a medal at the Asian Games.”

The postponed Asian Games are set to be held in Hangzhou, China, from September 23 to October 8.

(With agency inputs)