New Delhi | A large number of people from different walks of life, including farmers from neighbouring states of Delhi and DU students, reached Jantar Mantar on Thursday and expressed solidarity with the wrestlers protesting there demanding the arrest of WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
Many of them raised slogans in support of the wrestlers, a day after a scuffle broke out between the grapplers and Delhi Police personnel. A couple of wrestlers were injured in the ruckus late Wednesday night that started allegedly over putting wooden beds at the protest site. The wrestlers also accused a policeman of manhandling them in a drunken state, but the Delhi Police denied they used force on the protesters.
Several videos of the tense situation was circulated on social media and grappler Bajrang Punia at a press conference appealed to farmers and their leaders to reach the protest site Thursday morning to support them.
The people who reached Jantar Mantar raised slogans like "Nari Shakti Zindabad", "Pahalwan Ekta Zindabad", "Jo Humse Takrayega, Chur Chur Hojayega". Several farmer groups, who came from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, shouted "Jai Kisan Jai Jawan" and "Kisan Ekta Zindabad", pledging to not leave the site until justice is delivered to the wrestlers.
"After what happened with our wrestlers on Wednesday night, we felt the need to come and extend our support to the daughters of this country who have won medals for India at international platform. What happened yesterday was unfortunate. We have decided that until justice is delivered to them, we will not move from here," said Balbir Singh, a farmer who came from Amritsar.
Angrez Singh, another farmer who came to Jantar Mantar from Kurukshetra, shared the sentiment and questioned the alleged brutally of Delhi Police on the wrestlers, especially the females.
"After I saw the video of the incident, I could not stop myself from coming here. To become a wrestler, one has to undergo intensive training, need dedication and willpower to sustain. These wrestlers sitting here have proved themselves at the international level. Today, when they have accused someone of sexual harassment, instead of punishing that individual, the police are harassing these female wrestlers," he alleged.
The grapplers, including Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik, have demanded the arrest of Brij Bhushan Singh, a BJP lawmaker from UP, for sexual harassment of seven female wrestlers, one of them a minor. Singh has denied the charges and blamed Congress leader Deepender Hooda for hatching a "conspiracy" against him.
Delhi Police said they have increased security around the protest site and added that barricades have been put up in several areas in Delhi as a precautionary measure to ensure no untoward incident takes place.
The farmers, however, alleged that many of them were being stopped by police at Delhi's borders.
Along with farmers, a group of students also joined the protesting wrestlers at Jantar Mantar.
Among them was Priyanka, a Delhi University student who allegedly suffered injuries during a separate protest in support of the grapplers outside the Arts Faculty. The students alleged they were manhandled by police on Wednesday, but DCP (North) Sagar Singh Kalsi said they did not take permission for the protest and were removed peacefully.
Sitting on a wooden bed with a bandaged leg at Jantar Mantar on Thursday, Priyanka said after what Delhi Police personnel did with her, the way she was dragged and her hair was pulled up, she was determined to come to Jantar Mantar and join the protesting wrestlers.
"I might be in pain but I will still be here with the wrestlers of our nation in their fight. I will be here until justice is not delivered to them," she said.
With a poster in hand, which read, "Justice for the protesting wrestlers...arrest the WFI chief on charges of sexual harassment, another DU student Pooja said, "This fight is not of one fraternity. This fight is for all the women of this country. The WFI chief should be arrested and his arrest will set an example and deter any man from committing such an act." Some women organisations and a set of lawyers also arrived at Jantar Mantar to extend support to the wrestlers. Several leaders from different political parties also visited the wrestlers.