Monday, June 17, 2024

Fight not against govt, truth is two BJP leaders…: Sakshi Malik, husband in new video

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Olympic medalist Sakshi Malik and her husband and wrestler Satyawart Kadian Saturday shared a video addressing the allegations made against the wrestlers and spoke about their “real truth” about the wrestlers’ protest against the Wrestling Federation of India outgoing chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

The couple stated that they wanted to provide an account of the protest movement, starting from its inception until the present moment. They also thanked individuals and organisations that supported them throughout their “struggle”. In the video, Kadian mentioned the support the wrestlers received from Sankyukt Kisan Morcha, Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad. He also thanked ex- Jammu and Kashmir governor Satyapal Malik for his “inspiration” to raise their voices fiercely.

Their video comes nearly two months after a group of wrestlers, led by Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Malikkh, began their sit-in protest at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar on April 23 against the WFI president, who was initially accused of sexually harassing seven female wrestlers, including a minor. However, last week the minor withdrew her complaint and her father said they had made “false allegations” against Singh. WFI chief has denied all allegations against him.

‘Protest not politically motivated’

In the video titled ‘The Truth’, Kadian started by answering the first allegation that their protest is politically motivated and instigated by Congress. Showing a permission letter in the video, he said that for their three-day sit-in January protest at Delhi’s Jantar, permission was sought from two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, Tirath Rana and Babita Phogat.

He further said, “…majority of wrestlers and coaches associated with wrestling are aware of the problems within the wrestling federation, including the molestation charges they have raised.” Without naming, Kadian also referred to Jagbir Singh, an international wrestling referee’s recent claims against the WFI chief, which supported wrestlers’ charges.

“Many individuals within the wrestling community wanted to raise their voices against the problems but lacked unity and feared negative consequences for their careers,” he further said, noting that wrestlers’ fight is not against the government.

“Our fight is not against the government but specifically against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who has been accused of multiple sexual misconduct incidents with seven wrestlers.

‘Lack of unity forced us to remain silent’

Then, in response to the question of why they remained silent for such a long period, Sakshi Malik said that the “lack of unity within the federation made it difficult to address the issue.” “…there was fear for the safety of a minor child and her family, and this pressure was the second challenge for us,” she said.

She also highlighted that wrestlers often come from small and economically disadvantaged families,, who do not have the resources to fight against powerful and well-connected individuals, like Singh, who happens to be a Lok Sabha MP from the ruling BJP.

‘May 28 incident shattered us’

Further in the video, the couple spoke about the May 28 incident when the wrestlers were dragged and detained after they moved towards the new Parliament building to hold a women’s ‘Maha Panchayat’, to draw the union government’s attention to their protest.

Kadian said the mahapanchayat call was made by the khap panchayats, and they decided to agree with the call made by their elders. However, the incident turned sour after the agitating wrestlers were detained by the police for breaching the security cordon.

He further expressed his disappointment as he said, “The May 28 incident deeply affected us…. Our pride and reputation were tarnished, and we were unable to respond to the incident… As a result, we decided to immerse their medals in the Ganga as a symbolic gesture.

‘Immersing medals would have sparked violence’

However, he claimed that when the wrestlers reached Haridwar, politics came into play again. “One person took Bajrang away and kept him waiting till 7pm, assuring that justice would be served and some call was being taken…,” he said.

On why the wrestlers didn’t immerse their medals eventually, he said, “Bajrang was made to wait and we encountered delays and it ultimately led to a situation where immersing their medals could have sparked violence on the spot.” “We were already shattered from all that had happened and due to our poor mental state, we couldn’t even fully understand the unfolding events,” he added.

“We are not experienced agitators, we couldn’t have anticipated how politics would play out in such situations,” he defended the wrestlers. “After the incident, we felt lost and unsure about who was genuinely on their side…we were then advised to meet Home Minister Amit Shah, which we did to present their side of the story,” he clarified, noting that he has heard that some khaps are now upset with their decision.

Towards the end of the video, he requested people not to believe rumours and apologised for any mistakes the wrestlers may have made. Other than political support, he also thanked women’s bodies, students, and all those who helped them “unconditionally”.

The police has filed a charge-sheet against Singh, charging him under stalking and sexual harassment offences.

Fight not against govt, truth is two BJP leaders…: Sakshi Malik, husband in new video

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