The Delhi Police on Sunday booked wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, Sangeeta Phogat, Vinesh Phogat and others for rioting and obstructing public servants from discharging their duty, PTI reported.
The case was registered hours after the wrestlers were detained by the police as they attempted to march to the new Parliament building during its inauguration ceremony led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Visuals from the site showed the wrestlers trying to breach the barricades that had been put up to prevent them from reaching the new Parliament. The wrestlers and the police were also seen jostling with each other.
The Delhi Police also removed mats, tents and hoardings set up by the wrestlers at Jantar Mantar.
The athletes had been holding a sit-in protest at the site for more than a month demanding the arrest of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the chief of the Wrestling Federation of India. Singh, who is also a Bharatiya Janata Party MP, has been accused of sexually harassing seven wrestlers, including a minor.
On Sunday, the Delhi Police said that 700 people were detained across the national capital. Of these 109 were held during the scuffle at Jantar Mantar. The wrestlers were released later in the evening, according to PTI.
Special Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Dependra Pathak alleged that the protesters ignored repeated warnings and “wrestled” with police officials.
“Today was an important day for the country as the new Parliament building was to be inaugurated and despite warnings and repeatedly urging protesters at Jantar Mantar to not march beyond the protest site, they continued to do so,” he said. “The behaviour of the wrestlers was highly irresponsible.”
The police said that Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure that prohibits the gathering of four or more persons in an area had been imposed near Jantar Mantar, reported The Indian Express. The first information report said that the protestors breached first barricade and started running towards the police.
“More force came there and with great difficulty managed to overpower them [the protesters] and detain them,” the FIR stated. “While trying to stop the protesters, we were manhandled and assaulted… Police personnel sustained injuries.” Fifteen police officials were injured in the scuffle, according to the FIR.
Meanwhile, Pathak said besides the wrestlers, an FIR was also registered against the organisers of the protest.
The FIR has been registered under Sections 147 (rioting), 149 (unlawful assembly), 188 (disobedience to order by public servant), 186 (obstructing public servant), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to public servant), Sections 352 (assault or criminal force otherwise than on grave provocation) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 3 (mischief causing damage to public property) of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.
He also added that the wrestlers will not be allowed to continue with their protest at Jantar Mantar, according to the Hindustan Times.
“Earlier they [the wrestlers] did not have written permission to protest at Jantar Mantar, but we were agreeing to their wishes,” Pathak said. “Now, that has been withdrawn because of their conduct.”
However, later in a tweet, the police said that if the wrestlers apply for permission for staging in sit-in protest, they will allowed to continue their demonstration at some site other than Jantar Mantar.
Phogat has said that it had taken seven days for the Delhi Police to register an FIR against Bhushan, while the protestors were booked within seven hours.
“Has dictatorship begun in this country?” the wrestler asked. “The whole world is watching how the government is treating its citizens. A new history is being written.”
Punia, after being released, said that he will meet other wrestlers to decide the next step.
“Going back home is not an option,” he said. “I will meet the rest of the wrestlers and we will decide what needs to be done next.”