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Protesting wrestlers offer to return medals, govt honours after police manhandling



New Delhi: Wrestlers Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia speak during their protest at Jantar Mantar, in New Delhi on Thursday, May 04, 2023. (Photo: Anupam Gautam/ IANS). Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, May 4 : Top Indian wrestlers on Thursday offered to return the medals they won at various levels and honours received from various organisations as part of their protest against being manhandled by the Delhi Police to disrupt their sit-in protest at the Jantar Mantar here.

The wrestlers informed this on Thursday to the media at the Jantar Mantar here that they will return their medals and honours following misbehaviour by Delhi Police on Wednesday night to disrupt their protest against the alleged sexual harassment of female wrestlers by the deposed president of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

The protesters alleged that a policeman was in a drunken state and misbehaved with women wrestlers.

Offering to return the honours, Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Bajrang Punia said, “When they (policemen) were manhandling and abusing us, were they not able to see that the wrestlers are also Padma Shri (awardees).”
“If this is how the wrestlers will be treated, what will we do with the medals? It was not just me. Sakshi (Malik) was also sitting there. Rather we will live a normal life and return all the medals and awards to the Indian Government,” he added.

Asked whether their offer related to the medals that they won in the international arena, Asian and Commonwealth Games medallist Vinesh Phogat butted in to say, “Saare le jao. Itni beizzati toh kar di hamari. Kuch bhi chhoda nahi (Take away all. They have already insulted us so much. There’s nothing left).”
Asked about the assertion by BJP supporters that the protest has allegedly been hijacked by politicians, after seeing several opposition parties extending their support to the wrestlers’ protest, Vinesh Phogat asserted that it is political.

“Listen, this is political. Please get the Prime Minister to talk to us. Ask the home minister to call us. Get us justice. We are putting our careers and our lives at stake,” she told the media.

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