The Aam Aadmi Party on Friday once again extended solidarity with the protesting wrestlers who have alleged harassment by Wrestling Federation of India President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take action against the accused. AAP Cabinet Ministers Shri Saurabh Bhardwaj & Ms Atishi along with AAP National Spokesperson Ms Reena Gupta visited Jantar Mantar and stood in solidarity with the protesting wrestlers. The ministers offered all possible help and support to the wrestlers during the visit.
Speaking at the occasion, Shri Saurabh Bhardwaj said that the wrestlers who have dedicated their lives to bring glory to the nation are today protesting at Jantar Mantar and this is not a good sign for any society. He highlighted how these wrestlers, including the female athletes, who should ideally have been practising for upcoming tournaments are today sitting at Jantar Mantar braving the heat, humidity and mosquitoes in the open space. He also said that the wrestlers are fighting for their rights and have been forced to put their entire career at stake for their dignity.
The Cabinet Minister said that the players are protesting here today despite knowing that an act like this could bring an abrupt end to their careers. “Our wrestlers who are protesting over here are aware that they will have to fight against the conspiracies of the federation and will have to fight a long battle to get their career back on track. There will be attempts made to pressurise them and to end their careers by politicians, but despite being aware of this they are fighting for their dignity,” he said.
He added that it is the law of the land that when a woman files a complaint alleging sexual harassment and molestation against an accused, then the police are duty bound to file an FIR in the case. “But despite these wrestlers going to the police and narrating their ordeal multiple times, no FIR has been filed until now and this means that the Central Government is standing in solidarity with the accused. This is extremely unfortunate for the nation,” he said.
He said that it requires a tremendous amount of courage for a woman to come out in public and file a complaint against a person who has harassed her. He added that several people, including families and police officials, often try to dissuade the victim from filing a complaint in such cases. “But despite such pressure being put on them, if our sisters over here today have come out and made allegations of such a serious nature against the Wrestling Federation of India chief, then I think that it is very brave of them and action needs to be taken in this case,” he said.
Shri Saurabh Bhardwaj assured the protesting wrestlers that the Delhi Government stands in solidarity with them and AAP National Convenor Shri Arvind Kejriwal will fight for their cause. He said that whenever a group of people protest for any noble cause, then they have to go through several challenges. “There is always the fear whether the movement will be able to continue or whether it will die down. The Central Government will try everything to stop this protest. If there is food being delivered here, then the government will try to block it from coming here. Similarly, if there is electricity supply being provided, the government will try to cut it. So, it takes time for a movement to build and once it reaches its threshold point, then there is no force that can stop it,” he said.
In a lighter vein, he added that the politicians like to wrestle with each other in TV studios, but this time they will be fighting against actual wrestlers and they have no idea what is in store for them. He said that the wrestlers will definitely go on to win this battle against the Central Government. Referring to wrestler Bajrang Punia, Shri Saurabh Bhardwaj said, “Even Lord Ram required the assistance of Bajrang to fight against evil forces. Over here, we have Sankatmochan Hanuman with us and therefore we will certainly will. Even Lord Ram is with us in this fight against the evil Central Government,” he said.
He concluded by asking the wrestlers to remain firm in their resolve against the evil WFI president and said that the victory will eventually be theirs. “Jantar Mantar is a place where historic events have taken place. There was a time when we were also sitting over here, so Jantar Mantar knows all of us very well. I just want to tell you that you need to remain firm in your resolve, and eventually the government will be defeated,” he said.
Ms Atishi said that the AAP has come to Jantar Mantar several times in the past. But she added that the amount of pain that was there in her heart while coming to Jantar Mantar today, has never been that bad in the past. “I was watching a TV debate yesterday and when I saw the wrestlers present over here breakdown into tears, I was heartbroken. I thought to myself what kind of a Central Government we have. Even a person with a heart of stone will break down after listening to the stories of harassment that these wrestlers over here have faced. But still Modiji and his government does not care about these athletes,” she said.
Highlighting how the wrestlers work throughout their career to make the country proud, she said that everyone in India irrespective of their political affiliations felt proud when these wrestlers won medals for the country in international events a couple of months ago. “But today these same people who brought such joy to our citizens have to sit at Jantar Mantar and fight for their dignity. I think this is highly shameful and the head of the entire nation hangs in shame today,” she said.
Ms Atishi applauded the female wrestlers for coming out and speaking against the harassment faced by them. “I know how difficult it is to raise your voice in society. I am a woman myself, and I am aware that when a woman leaves her house, she faces various kinds of harassment – small and big – on a fairly regular basis. From when we are young girls, we fight our battles against society and it takes a lot of strength to move forward in life. If today these wrestlers have made a name for themselves at the international level, then we can imagine the kind of efforts that they must have put in their lives,” she said.
She pointed out how after going through such difficulties in their lives it is disgusting that leaders of the ruling party are trying to sexually harass these brave wrestlers. She revealed that in her interaction with the female wrestlers here, she was informed by them that the officials and servants of the politicians would call them up and harass and threaten them. Ms Atishi also hit out at the Union Minister for Sports Anurag Thakur for calling the protesting wresters “indisciplined”. “Today when these wrestlers are raising their voice against harassment, our Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur, who should be ashamed of himself, speaks to the media and says that our wrestlers are indisciplined. The amount our wrestlers train throughout their careers, I challenge him to train as much as them for even a week. I can assure you that he will not be able to leave his house because of pain after that. It is extremely shameful of him to call our wrestlers ‘indisciplined’,” she said.
Ms Atishi hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said that he should be ashamed that the daughters of this country are forced to come out and protest at Jantar Mantar for their dignity. “Modiji should be ashamed of himself. On the one hand he raises slogans such as ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ and yet under his watch our daughters are forced to hit the streets in protest against harassment. If this is the case, then no daughter in this nation will ever feel safe,” she said.
Urging the Prime Minister to stop standing in solidarity with BJP leaders who are accused of sexual harassment and molestation, she said, “The PM should listen to the voices of our daughters here and ensure that justice is provided to them. Otherwise, today there are around 1000 people who have gathered to demand justice and in the days to come, these numbers will swell to 10 lakh, and this fight for their dignity will continue in the days to come,” she said.
She concluded by assuring the protesting wrestlers that the Delhi Government and the AAP National Convenor Shri Arvind Kejriwal stands in solidarity with them. She also added that the government will provide them whatever assistance they require in continuing their fight. “If you need a generator for the purpose of electricity supply or water and food to continue this fight against the oppressors, the state government will provide whatever assistance it can and it stands in solidarity with our wrestlers,” she said.