Some hope for wrestlers, but ‘immediate arrest of Brij Bhushan ruled out’

NEW DELHI: In a dramatic turn of events, the protesting wrestlers have reengaged with the government for a resolution of the standoff over their demand for arresting former Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, leading to a de-escalation in the agitation, at least for now.
According to sources close to them, agitating wrestlers Bajrang Punia and Sakshee Mallikh, along with a group of coaches and others, had a two-hour meeting with Union home minister Amit Shah on Saturday evening. The office of the home minister refused to confirm the sudden meeting, which has provoked indignation from the khaps who had taken up the cudgels for the agitating grapplers and appeared to be preparing for a prolonged confrontation.


Wrestlers Sakshee Malikkh, Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat rejoin govt duties, but insist protest not withdrawn

‘Arrest only as per legal procedure’
The wrestlers’ camp said that Shah did not agree to their principal demand for the immediate arrest of Singh, who is a BJP MP, for allegedly sexually harassing a minor wrestler. But they did not appear to be unhappy with the HM’s purported response to their other demands: appointing a separate president for women wrestlers, withdrawal of FIRs against the protesting wrestlers for breaking prohibitory orders on May 28, and restraining the family and relatives of Brij Bhushan from contesting the forthcoming wrestling federation elections.
Significantly, the deliberations took place in the wake of Punia, Mallikh and the third member of the troika, Vinesh Phogat, resuming their duties as officials of rail ministry: something that did not quite go with their confrontationist posture.
Wrestler Sakshi Malik resumes government duties after meeting Amit Shah


Wrestler Sakshi Malik resumes government duties after meeting Amit Shah

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But while there were signs of thaw, the two sides remained stuck on the issue of wrestlers’ demand for Singh’s arrest.
Sources close to them claimed Shah told them that the arrest would be made according to law and as per the legal procedure. The minister, the wrestlers’ camp claimed, suggested handing over the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or referring the case to a fast-track court if they weren’t happy with the ongoing probe carried out by the Delhi police.
Shah, according to wrestlers, agreed to the withdrawal of FIRs against the wrestlers and their supporters who were detained while trying to march towards the new Parliament building on May 28. He also agreed that no family member or relative of Singh would contest the upcoming federation elections, and that a woman official would be appointed in the new federation to look after the affairs of women’s wrestling. However, Bajrang and Sakshee stuck to their demand for arrest of Singh as a precondition to end their more over month-long agitation. Apart from the duo, the meeting was attended by Sakshee’s husband Satyawart Kadian and some wrestling coaches. Why Vinesh Phogat skipped the meeting is not known.
Wrestlers Sakshee Malikkh, Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat rejoin govt duties, but insist protest not withdrawn


Wrestlers Sakshee Malikkh, Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat rejoin govt duties, but insist protest not withdrawn

Kadian later told reporters that “the meeting remained unsuccessful and inconclusive”.
It was the second high-level talk which the protesting group had with the ruling dispensation. On May 27, BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP from Haryana, Kartikeya Sharma, had met the wrestlers at the Jantar Mantar protest site to convince them to call off their protest.
Meanwhile, after being show-caused by the Northern Railways on May 27, Bajrang, Vinesh and Sakshee resumed their duties as Officers on Special Duty (OSDs). It is learnt that Bajrang and Vinesh joined their stations on May 30, while Sakshee reported to the Northern Railways headquarters in Baroda House on May 31.
The development came a day after the trio decided not to immerse their international medals in the Ganga at Haridwar.
On Monday, Sakshee confirmed the news about her rejoining work but denied “rumours” that she had withdrawn from the agitation. “The news is completely wrong. None of us has backed down. We will continue our fight for justice but, at the same time, I will be fulfilling my responsibility as a Railways employee,” she tweeted in Hindi.
Later, Bajrang, Vinesh and Sakshee put out an identical tweet, stating, “Those who told us our medals are worth Rs 15 each are now after our jobs. Our life is at stake, a job is a very small thing in front of that. If the job is seen to be an obstacle in the way of justice, then we will not take even ten seconds to leave it. Do not show us the fear of the job,” they tweeted in Hindi.
However, their latest move cast doubts in some quarters over the trajectory that the protest seemed to be taking. More so, after the khap panchayats and kisan unions of western Uttar Pradesh distanced themselves from the movement following the wrestlers’ meeting with the home minister.
In another development, it’s learnt that the protesting woman wrestlers have approached senior Supreme Court lawyer Rebecca Mammen John to represent the complainants in their legal battle ahead.
The wrestlers recently had a meeting with John, who works primarily in the field of criminal defence. The wrestlers were earlier represented by lawyer Narendra Hooda, who confirmed to TOI on Monday that he was no longer representing the wrestlers in the case.

The Open Magazine of India by Artmotion Network (

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