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DU: Students Protesting for Justice to Wrestlers Detained by Delhi Police

Students say that section 144 was imposed by police despite a peaceful protest.
DU students protest in support of wrestlers

On Wednesday, several students affiliated with different student organisations assembled at the Arts faculty at Delhi University to express solidarity with the wrestlers' protest against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) Chief Brij Bhushan Singh. Later they were detained by Delhi Police and brought to Burari Police Station.

The students maintained that the representatives of wrestlers had come to address the students and share the pain of injustice with them. However, police action left activists baffled as it was a peaceful meeting. 

Parichay Yadav, an LLB student of Campus Law Centre, told NewsClick that the students, like any other citizen, are hurt at the sheer insensitivity of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) government towards wrestlers who are accusing the WFI chief of molestation and sexual misconduct.

"It is a clear-cut case of sexual exploitation where the ruling party has weaponised the use of gender to save Brij Bhushan Singh. When these wrestlers were winning medals for the country, they were loved by every person, but when they raised their voices, they were shunned. I must remind you that it is not the first instance when such allegations have been levelled against BJP ministers. Sandeep Singh, sports minister of Haryana, too, is facing a similar charge."

The wrestlers, anguished at the slow pace of hearing petitions on Wednesday, told the Supreme Court that Delhi Police has not yet recorded the victims' statements under section 161 of the criminal procedure code. 

The Supreme Court had directed the Delhi Police to register FIRs on the complaint of seven wrestlers, including one minor, under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. 

The wrestlers have maintained that Delhi Police was not abiding by the ruling of the top court, which clearly said that FIRs should be registered in cognisable offences.

DU students protest in support of wrestlers

Shambhavi, north zone convenor of All India Students Association (AISA), said that the students had gathered to protest outside Arts Faculty when they were informed that Section 144 was put in place and brutally detained by police and paramilitary officials. 

"It is our campus. However, we are being detained every second day for protesting for our rights."

Aishe Ghosh, President of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union, who was also detained before the protest, told NewsClick that the ruling party made it a prestige issue and backed Brij Bhushan Singh despite the heinous nature of the allegations.

"We see women coming out of homes and earning fame for their work. However, there is a gender angle associated with it where men have been trying to control their influence and work. It happened in the university, too, when several girl students levelled allegations against a teacher inside the campus. Interestingly, there will be questions about these wrestlers only that they should not have conducted protests this way. They should have put faith in the committees. It is a standard template for any protesting women."

She added," If the government does not deliver justice, many struggling women will lose hope about their struggles. This is why we are seeing that people are expecting hope from institutions like Judiciary."

Bhim Kumar from Krantikari Yuva Sangathan said that Brij Bhushan Singh, it should be known, is an MP (member of Parliament) from eastern Uttar Pradesh. 

Since the dharna was taken back, the BJP has not acted against the MP, hoping the matter would die.

"The ruling party aims to cash onto his clout in the region for the next general elections. Thus, even an FIR was not registered despite several complaints against the MP, including by a minor wrestler. Only after the direction of the Supreme Court were two FIRs registered on the matter, but no arrest has been made so far. Moreover, the preliminary report by the committee formed post the dharna by the Union government is silent on allegations of sexual harassment against the BJP MP. The apathy of the BJP towards the women wrestlers and the safety of women in the country, thus, lies exposed," Kumar said. 

Mayukh Biswas, General Secretary of the Students Federation of India, in a statement, said that the Union government's actions show their lack of honour for the courageous athletes who upheld the pride of the nation at international venues. The Union government is further humiliating the wrestlers by cutting power and disallowing proper shelter during rain at the protesting venue, Biswas said. 

"SFI has been in solidarity with the protesting wrestlers from the beginning, and SFI delegations have visited and joined the protest at Jantar Mantar many times. The SFI has also organised nationwide demonstrations demanding justice for the sexually harassed victims and will continue to fight for the cause until justice is served," Biswas further said.

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