Priyanka Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal meet protesting wrestlers at Jantar Mantar, slam Centre for ‘protecting’ WFI chief
With the protest by wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik about to enter a week, top Opposition leaders, including Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and AICC General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Saturday met them at the Jantar Mantar and announced their support and lashed out at the BJP government for “protecting” Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
The wrestlers have been protesting since Sunday, demanding the removal and criminal action against Singh over the alleged sexual exploitation and harassment.
Gandhi, accompanied by Rajya Sabha MP Deepender Hooda, reached the venue in the morning and held a lengthy interaction with Malik and Phogat. Talking to the reporters, she accused the government of shielding Singh and said he is facing serious allegations and should be removed from the post. However, at the same time, she also said she does not have any expectations from the Prime Minister.
She said the copy of the FIR filed Friday must be shared with the wrestlers as they do not know what sections of the Indian Penal Code have been applied. “When these girls win medals, all of us tweet. It is said that they are our country’s pride. All the leaders, including me, lavish praises on them but now when they are sitting on the road and seeking to be heard, saying they have been wronged, no one is ready to listen to them,” said Gandhi.
Demanding the ouster of Singh, she said, “Till he is in that post, he will continue to exert pressure and keep destroying people’s career. If that person is there on a post through which he can destroy the careers of the wrestlers, harass them and exert pressure, then what is the meaning of the FIRs and the investigation.”
“Strip him of his powers which had enabled him to do all this,” she said and asked, “I want to understand why the government is protecting him?”
Gandhi further said the government should have protected the wrestlers. “These girls, who have done so much for the country and their homes, you should save them. Instead, they (government) are saving this person (Singh). What does it say about our country if we cannot save our girls?” she asked.
Asked about Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she said, “Had the Prime Minister been concerned, then he would have at least called them and spoken to them. He had called them for tea when they won medals. So, call them (now), talk to them, they are our girls,” she said.
Asked about the oversight panel that investigated the allegations, the Congress general secretary said, “We all know what committees are, they are meant to skirt the issue. Whenever there is exploitation of women, this government goes mute. It is an old story that FIRs are not registered and women have to run from pillar to post.”
“These girls are so brave and courageous and they are standing up and saying that we will not let this happen,” Gandhi said.
“The prime minister acknowledges or not, his ministers acknowledge or not, their government acknowledges or not, the whole country is with them (women wrestlers) but the government wants to save this man (Singh),” she said.
Meanwhile, Kejriwal said the government, Prime Minister and the entire machinery are out to save Singh. “A message is going across the country that a person of their (BJP) party is involved in some wrongdoing and that even an FIR will not be registered against him. Remember what happened during the farmers’ protests? They were run over by a vehicle and the entire machinery tried to save him (BJP leader),” Kejriwal said. He said the entire country is standing with the wrestlers.
He added that every Indian, who loves the country, should stand with the wrestlers in their struggle and asked the people to reach Jantar Mantar to support them.