Kapil Dev, Harbhajan Singh and Virender Sehwag are among those who have come out in support of the wrestlers who have made allegations of sexual harassment against the head of the wrestling federation.
Kapil Dev, Virender Siwag, Harbhajan Singh and Irfan Pathan have become the first cricketers to break their silence on protests by India’s top wrestlers calling for the sacking of Brij Bhushan Charan Singh, the president of the Indian Wrestling Federation. Wrestlers have alleged that Singh sexually assaulted and exploited female wrestlers over the past decade.
On Friday afternoon, the Delhi police agreed to investigate the charges against Singh, a week after the complaint was first filed and after the wrestlers moved before the Supreme Court to take action. But the wrestlers’ biggest job is to remove Singh from his position as president of the federation, and bring attention to the charges against him.
“Will they get justice?” Kapil asked in an Instagram post with a photo of Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik – Olympic medalists – who have been leading a protest in New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar for the past five days. They were part of a group of 30 singles wrestlers in Jantar Mantar in January of this year, too, when they went public with the allegations against Singh, an MP from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
Subsequently, the union sports ministry, which former British Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairman Anurag Thakur is responsible for, tasked its supervisory committee with investigating the matter and presenting findings by February. The panel included, among others, boxer MC Mary Kom and wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, both Olympic medalists (Mary Kom is also a former MP). Reports indicate that even after two months, the wrestlers’ censorship committee results were not made available.
The support of the gladiators has been very limited throughout. On Thursday, B. Her comments were met with intense public criticism and Bonia expressed her disappointment at the “harsh reaction”.
Then, on Friday, Phogat issued an appeal of sorts to the Indian cricket community, asking why they were staying silent about the plight of their fellow athletes.
“You come up to congratulate us when we win something. Even cricketers tweet when that happens. Abhi kya ho gaya [What has happened now]? Are you so afraid of the system? Or maybe something fishy is going on there as well? “Finch Foggat
“The whole country worships cricket but not even one cricketer has spoken up.” Indian Express Vogat is quoted as saying. “We’re not saying you speak for us, but at least put out a neutral message and say there should be justice for any party. That’s what hurts me…be it cricketers, badminton players, athletics, boxing…
“It’s not like we don’t have great athletes in our country. There are cricketers… During the Black Lives Matter movement in the US, they showed their support. Don’t we even deserve that much?”
“You come up to congratulate us when we win something. Even cricketers tweet when that happens. Abhi Kia is Jaya [What has happened now]? Are you so afraid of the system? Or maybe something fishy is going on there as well? “
While Kapil’s letter had come a day earlier, on Thursday, Harbhajan tweeted on Friday, “I ache as a sportsman to find our country’s pride coming out to protest in the streets,” while Sehwag wrote, “It is a sensitive matter and needs an impartial investigation,” and Pathan said, ” Indian athletes are always our pride not only when they get medals for us…”.
At the time of filing this report, no Indian cricketer has spoken about the issue.
Phogat’s appeal got a response on Friday from some of India’s most celebrated athletes, who expressed their support for the protesting wrestlers.
“What is happening [the street protests] It should never have happened, said Neeraj Chopra, Olympic javelin throwing champion. “This is a sensitive issue, and it must be dealt with in a neutral and transparent manner.” And Nikat Zarin, a two-time world champion boxer, wrote, “It just breaks my heart to see Olympic and world medalists in this state.”
A day earlier, Abhinav Bindra, a shooter who won India’s first individual gold medal at the Olympic Games in 2008, tweeted, “It is deeply concerning to see our athletes find it necessary to protest in the streets over allegations of harassment in the Indian wrestling administration.”
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