India: 1983 World Cup winning team supports protesting wrestlers

Kapil Dev, Gavaskar, Srikanth and other team members say they are disturbed over the the manhandling of wrestlers by police

Follow us on Google News-khaleejtimes

Indian wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Sangita Phogat and Vinesh Phogat talk to each other ahead of their protest march towards the newly inaugurated parliament, in New Delhi. — AP file
Indian wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Sangita Phogat and Vinesh Phogat talk to each other ahead of their protest march towards the newly inaugurated parliament, in New Delhi. — AP file

By Agencies

Published: Fri 2 Jun 2023, 8:30 PM

Last updated: Fri 2 Jun 2023, 8:35 PM

Members of India's 1983 cricket World Cup winning squad came out on Friday, voicing support for the wrestlers protesting against outgoing Wrestlers Federation of India chief and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

Extremely disturbed over the unseemly visuals of champion wrestlers being manhandled, the team members including legendary batters Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar and Mohinder Amarnath urged the ace grapplers not to take the hasty decision of dumping their hard-earned medals into river Ganga.

Several ace wrestlers including Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik have been protesting against Singh, accusing him of sexual harassment and demanding his arrest.

Former cricketer Kirti Azad expressed his dissatisfaction with the handling of the issue, stating that wrestlers who have brought respect to the country via their sports achievements deserve justice.

"The way Delhi Police treated our wrestlers who were protesting peacefully was condemnable. Our women wrestlers worked hard, and they played for the pride of India and won medals. They are treated like this by the police and they have to go supreme court to file FIR, and at the end when they did not get justice they have to immerse their medals in river Ganga. We have asked them to not immerse medals in the river, this is the pride of the nation. We want that our wrestlers should get justice as soon as possible," Kirti Azad told ANI.

On former WFI chief Brij Bhushan Singh, Azad said: "When more than half a dozen girls accused him and considering the POCSO act, he should have been arrested immediately."

"We are distressed and disturbed at the unseemly visuals of our champion wrestlers being manhandled. We are also most concerned that they are thinking of dumping their hard-earned medals into river Ganga. Those medals have involved years of effort, sacrifice, determination and grit and are not only their own but the nation's pride and joy. We urge them not to take any hasty decision in this matter and also fervently hope that their grievances are heard and resolved quickly. Let the law of the land prevail," a statement issued by the team on wrestlers' protest read.

On Tuesday, Olympic medalists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik along with Vinesh Phogat went to Uttarakhand's Haridwar to immerse their all medals including Olympic ones in the river, as a mark of their protest. However, farmer leader Naresh Tikait asked them to wait for five days.

On May 28, Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Sangeeta Phogat were detained by Delhi Police while attempting to march to the new Parliament building where they planned to stage a demonstration.

"Heartbreaking that they decided to throw their medals. We aren't in favour of them throwing their medals because earning medals isn't easy and we urge the government to sort out this issue as soon as possible," cricketer Madan Lal said.

The team members who won the 1983 World Cup final include Sunil Gavaskar, Mohinder Amarnath, K Srikanth, Syed Kirmani, Yashpal Sharma, Madan Lal, Balwinder Singh Sandhu, Sandeep Patil, Kirti Azad and Roger Binny.

Meanwhile, the two FIRs registered by Delhi Police against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh based on complaints of six adult wrestlers and father of a minor narrated several alleged instances of sexual harassment, inappropriate touching, groping, stalking and intimidation by him at different times and places including in foreign countries, over a decade.

The Delhi Police had on April 28 registered the two FIRs at Connaught Place police station, including one by the father of a minor wrestler invoking POCSO Act that entails prison term up to seven years on conviction.

The FIRs registered following a Supreme Court order have charged Singh under various IPC sections including assaulting a woman to outrage her modesty (Section 354), sexual harassment (354 A), stalking (354 D) that are punishable with jail terms of two-three years.

Some of the complainants also alleged that Singh made advances to seek "sexual favours" promising to help them in their professional careers.

Singh has denied all the charges and said he will hang himself even if a single allegation is proved against him. He has also maintained that all wrestlers are like his children and he will not blame them as his blood and sweat have also gone into their success.

The FIR filed by the six wrestlers also names Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) secretary Vinod Tomar as an accused.

More news from World