India’s top wrestlers including Olympic and World medallists Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik on Tuesday said that they would immerse their medals in Ganga after being detained by the Delhi Police.
In a statement on Twitter, the wrestlers mentioned that they will let go of their medals in Ganga at 6 pm and will sit on an indefinite hunger strike at India Gate.
Hailing Ganga as a mother, the wrestlers considered the river ‘to be divine and pure’. “Our hardwork to win these medals was also as earnest. These are invaluable to the nation and the best place for these medals to be is in the pure Ganges, rather than in this impure system.”
The wrestlers began protesting a little over one month at New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar demanding the arrest of former WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh over allegations of sexual harrassment.
“You saw what happened on May 28, how the police behaved and brutally arrested us. We were protesting peacefully but they snatched our protest site and booked us under serious offences. Did the female wrestlers do anything wrong in seeking justice for sexual harassment with them? The police and authorities are treating us like criminals when the actual wrongdoer is walking free out in the open. Our experiences are becoming matters of laughter on television. So much so that there’s even talk of wanting to bring changes to the POCSO act, ever so casually, “ said the statement.
Questioning the authorities and their motive behind winning the medals, the statement read, “We women wrestlers feel we have nothing left in this nation. We remember when we won medals at the Olympic and World level for this country. Now, we wonder why we bothered winning? Did we win so that the authorities can behave so badly with us? So that they can manhandle us and then hold us up as the ones in the wrong?”
Accusing the authorities of intimidation, the protesting wrestlers felt that the punishment should be given to the ‘actual wrongdoer, instead of victims’.
“It now feels like these medals adorning our necks have no value. First, it used to feel unthinkable to even consider returning these medals but as things stand, how do we live compromising on our dignity and self respect?” the statement read.
When the wrestlers deliberated as to who they should return the medals to, the President and Prime Minister of the country were ruled out. “Do we return it to our president, who is herself a woman? But our minds said no, because she resides merely 2 km away from where we were protesting and did nothing but watch. She had nothing to say. Do we return it to our Prime Minister, who once called us his daughters? Our minds said no, because he never came to speak to his daughters. Instead, in the inauguration of the new Parliament building, he invited the wrongdoer who turned up in a squeaky clean white garb and clicked photos everywhere.”
Not wanting to be pawns of people’s agendas, the wrestlers concluded, “We don’t want these medals because with these on, we’ve just becomes pawns in people’s agendas for this so-called clean system. And then they still abuse us. And should we want to speak up about the abuse, then they come ready to throw us in jail. This dirty system is doing its job. We will do ours. The world now must decide who it wants to side with - its daughters or the system that abuses them.“
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