“Arrest Brij Bhushan Or Face Larger Protest”: Farmer Leaders Warn Govt


New Delhi: Farmer leaders who are supporting India’s top athletes in their fight against wrestling body chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh have given a fresh ultimatum to the centre – arrest him or face a larger protest.

“We have taken a decision that the government must address the grievances of wrestlers and he (Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh) should be arrested. Otherwise, we will go with the wrestlers to Jantar Mantar in Delhi on June 9 and hold panchayats across the nation,” farmer leader Rakesh Tikait said.

“The cases against the wrestlers should be withdrawn and the arrest of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh must happen,”  Tikait said.

Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, a BJP MP, faces allegations of sexual harassment and intimidation. The wrestlers have alleged he misused his position as the chief of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) to sexually harass athletes.

Farmer groups held a “khap mahapanchayat” in Uttar Pradesh and a series of protests in Punjab and Haryana yesterday in solidarity with the wrestlers.

The wrestlers were allegedly manhandled by Delhi Police personnel when they tried to march towards the new parliament building after its inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday.

Olympic and World Champion wrestlers Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sangeeta Phogat are among those protesting against the outgoing WFI chief.

Sports Minister Anurag Thakur has assured of justice to the wrestlers, who, however, have not agreed on nothing less than the arrest of the BJP MP.

“The government favours an unbiased investigation… All of us want justice to be delivered, but it will happen after following the due process,” Mr Thakur said at Times Network’s India Economic Conclave yesterday.

The wrestlers went to Haridwar on Tuesday after announcing they will immerse their medals in the Ganga. They were persuaded by khap and farmer leaders not to carry out the threat. The leaders sought five days’ time from the wrestlers to address their concerns.

The Delhi Police have filed two FIRs (first information reports) based on the wrestlers’ complaints. One of them is over allegations by a minor wrestler and has been filed under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

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