The wrestlers' protest devolved into chaos as Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia and other protesters were detained after a scuffle with the Delhi Police at Jantar Mantar when they began their march to the new Parliament House building for the ‘Mahila Samman Mahapanchayat’.
According to the latest reports, a few of the wrestlers and protesters have been taken to Vasant Kunj police station.
The athletes had planned an assembly for women's respect as part of their ongoing protest against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief andd BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who has been accused by the wrestlers of sexually harassing several female athletes. These allegations have stirred a nationwide controversy, leading to widespread protests demanding his arrest.
Wrestler Vinesh Phogat, in a video posted on her official Twitter account, said that “democracy is being murdered openly”. She also said that the nation will remember how “women who were demanding their rights were suppressed while the new Parliament was being inaugurated”. Sakshi Malik tweeted that it was a sad day for Indian sports.
"While wrestlers are being dragged on streets, sexual harassment accused and WFI chief Brij Bhushan is sitting in the Parliament," her Tweet read.
"Does any government get the champions of their country treated like this? What crime have we committed?" Punia tweeted as well.
Delhi Police had ramped up security measures at Jantar Mantar, the designated protest site located about two kilometres from the parliament building, ahead of the planned 'Mahapanchayat'. Despite the increased security, the wrestlers remained adamant about going forward with their protest.
The tension escalated when the wrestlers, led by Vinesh Phogat and her cousin sister Sangeeta Phogat, attempted to breach the security barricades. The clash was followed by shoving and pushing between the protesters and police officers.
"All protesters were detained and forcefully boarded in buses by Police," said Dependra Pathak, Special Commissioner of Police, Law and Order. He added that the athletes were "detained for violating law and order," and assured that legal action would be taken "after an inquiry in due course of time".
Following the detentions, police officers proceeded to clear the protest site, which had been active since the wrestlers resumed their protest against Singh on April 23.
The protesting athletes, which include Olympic medallists and Asian Games gold winners, have been unwavering in their demand for Singh's arrest. The use of force by the police, they insisted, would not deter them from carrying on with their peaceful protest and assembly.