Even as they faced widespread criticism for detaining and filing first information reports (FIRs) accusing protesting wrestlers of rioting, the Delhi Police today said the protesters will not be allowed to return to Jantar Mantar.
The police claim that the protesters broke the law despite repeated requests, which is why their protest at Delhi's Jantar Mantar, Delhi's designated protest site, was stopped.
"If the wrestlers apply for permission to stage a sit-in again in the future, they will be allowed at any of the suitable, notified places other than Jantar Mantar," the Deputy Commissioner of Police, New Delhi, tweeted in Hindi.
Visuals of Delhi Police personnel manhandling Olympians and Commonwealth Games champions Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia and other protesters have gone viral. Over 700 were detained for hours yesterday by the Delhi Police as they attempted a protest march to where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was inaugurating the new parliament complex.
The athletes had planned a women's assembly near the new parliament as part of their protest against BJP MP and chief of the country's wrestling federation Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, accusing him of sexually harassing several women wrestlers, including a minor. They have demanded his removal as the president of the Wrestling Federation of India, and a speedy trial on their police case.
The wrestlers have been accused of rioting, unlawful assembly and obstructing public servants from doing their duty. All wrestlers participating in the protest have been named in the case.
Irate social media users also shared pictures of Brij Bhushan Sharan at the new parliament inauguration event. Connected to India has been unable to independently confirm whether the WFI chief was present for the inauguration.
"It is unfortunate that a person accused of sexual harassment attended the inauguration of the new Parliament building. It took Delhi Police only a few hours to register an FIR against us but it took them 7 days to register an FIR against Brij Bhushan Singh," said wrestler Bajrang Punia after being released by the police. He further stated that he was the last one to get released after being detained for almost 10 hours. The police earlier released Vinesh and Sangeeta Phogat and Sakshi Malik.
Opposition political leaders such as Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee condemned the police’s actions.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin reacted sharply to the police's detention of protesting wrestlers in Delhi and targeted the Centre over the issue, saying the 'Sengol' installed in the new Parliament building has "bent" the very first day.
Posting on Twitter, Stalin said months have passed since the women wrestlers raised the allegation against the BJP MP but the saffron party leadership has not acted against Singh. "Police detaining them after dragging them is condemnable. This shows the Sengol has bent the very first day. Is it fair that such an atrocity should also happen on a day of (new Parliament building) inauguration that sidestepped the President and amid opposition boycott," Stalin, also chief of the ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu, added.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called the Delhi Police actions against the sportspersons, who he said bring honour to the country, “wrong and condemnable”.
Earlier this month, the ace wrestlers alleged that a group of drunk Delhi Police personnel targeted them when they wanted to bring in mattresses to sleep on a rainy day. The policemen beat them up and abused the women wrestlers, they had said.