“Why are you not listening to our Mann Ki Baat,” the protesting wrestlers asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday (April 26) and sought his time to discuss the sexual harassment allegations against his party’s MP and Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
India’s top wrestlers resumed their agitation against the wrestling federation’s chief on Sunday, three months after they ended their sit-in protest following the formation of an oversight committee to probe into the serious allegations.
The Sports Ministry has not yet made public the findings of a six-member oversight panel that submitted its report on April 5.
Also read: Wrestlers’ protest takes political colour, Supreme Court intervenes
The wrestlers on Wednesday (April 26) said they are surprised that PM Modi felicitates them and clicks pictures with them when they win medals but now he has turned a blind eye to their plight when they are on road, seeking justice.
“PM Modi sir talks about Beti Bachao and Beti Padhao, and listens to everyone’s Mann Ki Baat. Can’t he listen to our mann ki baat? He invites us to his home when we win medals and gives us a lot of respect and calls us his daughters. Today, we appeal to him that he listens to our Mann Ki Baat,” Rio Games bronze medallist Sakshi Malik said during a media interaction.
Interestingly, Malik drew analogy with Prime Minister’s popular radio programme Mann Ki Baat which is completing 100 editions and to mark the milestone, several programs are being organised by the government.
Also read: Delhi Police seek report from panel probing WFI chief; 7 wrestlers file complaint
“I want to ask Smriti Irani (Union Minister) why is she silent now? It’s been four days that we are sleeping on road, enduring mosquito bites. We are not being allowed (by Delhi Police) to prepare food and train, why are you silent? I just want to say that you come here, listen to us and support us,” added Malik.
Malik feels may be their point is not reaching the Prime Minister.
“Maybe our truth is not reaching him, so we want to meet him and let him know our issues.”
Also read: Protesting wrestlers sleep on footpath; DCW seeks details on FIR against WFI chief from Delhi police
An emotional World championship medallist Vinesh Phogat said, “We don’t have the (telephone) numbers (of relevant people) by which we can reach out to him so we are appealing to PM Modi through media to raise issues. Maybe he can then listen to your cries. Our souls are almost dead, maybe he will see.”
“He does his programme Mann ki Baat but has he, even for a minute given a thought to our mann ki baat, how much dilemma, does he think we face that daughters of the nation are sitting on the roads and are on the cusp of quitting wrestling by standing against a big criminal?”
Vinesh also said that they will take out a candlelight march later in the evening.
“Maybe the authorities can’t see, so we will take out a candlelight march to offer some light. Maybe they can see that daughters of India, who are not just wrestlers but represent the feelings of many women, are out on the roads.
Tokyo Games bronze medallist Bajrang also appealed to the PM.
“These are daughters of India appealing to you, please do justice with them,” he said.
“We had brought wrestling mats for practice but we were not allowed, even we can’t prepare our food here because there is no permission. Now, will we have to take permission even for breathing,” asked Bajrang.
He also added that efforts are being made by the WFI chief’s men to scare them.
“A few people are trying to discourage us and scare us by narrating stories how Brij Bhushan got an adversary killed. But let me tell you that we are not going to get scared.”
Vinesh also appealed to all athletes, across disciplines, to stand united with them.
“Can’t we put behind greed, fear and self interest behind? I appeal to all sportspersons of the nation, Olympic medallists, national medallists and world championship medallists to come together and stay united.
“If we come together, there is no reason why we can’t be number one nation in Olympics one day.”
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— Vinesh Phogat (@Phogat_Vinesh) April 23, 2023
(With agency inputs)