Vinesh Phogat on Tuesday said in an opinion piece in the Indian Express that their now one-month long protest will continue until Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh is arrested.
Singh is accused of sexually harassing several female players, including an underage girl. The country’s top wrestlers have been staging a sit-in protest at Jantar Mantar since April 23, demanding the arrest of Singh.
Two first information reports have been registered against Singh after the Supreme Court intervened but he is yet to be arrested.
In the article with her byline, in addition to discussing their troubles within the federation, the wrestler also discussed how their training has been hampered in preparation for the Asian Games 2023.
“The Asian Games is around the corner… though we have to represent India and win medals, this is a bigger battle… What’s the point of the medals around your neck if you can’t fight for justice?,” wrote the Asian Games gold medalist.
Phogat, who is also a two-time Commonwealth Games gold-medallist, the 2021 Asian Champ and a 2021 World Championships bronze-medallist has been protesting at Jantar Mantar for a month now. On Monday, Olympic medalist Bajrang Punia said that he and Phogat were ready to undergo a lie-detector narco analysis test as demanded by Singh.
Also read: Wrestlers’ protest: Bajrang Punia says he is ready to take SC-monitored lie-detector test
She wrote: “Earlier, we were like pawns in a political game. Now we are making our own decisions. Sports Minister Anurag Thakur has disrespected us. His attitude is like “I am the sports minister, you have to listen to what I say.” When victims of sexual harassment told their stories to him, he looked them in the eye and asked for proof. And so did members of the Oversight Committee.”
Although apprehensive about the impact of this protest on their career, Phogat clarified that they won’t budge until Singh is arrested. She added, “Why Brij Bhushan, A Member of Parliament, is being protected is anyone’s guess.”
“But, like we have said, we won’t be leaving Jantar Mantar until he is arrested. The past few months have been stressful and I have shed tears. But I know this could be a long and testing battle to get justice for women and I am ready to make any sacrifice.”