Justice Denied to Wrestlers Say People in All India Protest by SKM
New Delhi: Amid rapidly changing developments, the people in different parts of the country joined protests on Monday on the appeal of Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) to demand the immediate arrest of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP and former Wrestling Federation of India Chief. Singh is accused of sexual assault by several wrestlers who maintain that he threatened to spoil their careers if they denied him sexual favours. The FIRs registered with Delhi Police narrate details of assaults outside the country, too, where he would roam outside wrestlers' hotel rooms to lure them for sexual favours.
The reports of protests poured in from Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Rajasthan, among other states. Meanwhile, wrestlers dubbed reports about ending protests as baseless and that they would continue their struggle for justice.
Kuldeep Singh Tanwar, State President, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) Himachal Pradesh, told NewsClick that the different farmers' organisations and citizens’ groups assembled outside the office of the District Commissioner in Shimla and other districts and demanded the arrest of accused BJP MP. The protest saw the participation of former MLA Rakesh Singha, former Mayor Tikender Singh Panwar, retired Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Deepak Shanan and other civil society members. The protesters burnt the effigies of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh too.
Tanwar said, “The common people are very pained to see the plight of our daughters. They demand justice because they were violated by this lumpen who has no respect for the law. It must be remembered that these girls came from Haryana, where the sex ratio remains the lowest in the country. They must have fought very hard with their families to achieve this feat. There is immense resentment among citizens.”
Tanwar added that there had been consistent campaigns in connivance with news channels and religious groups to demand amendments to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. “It would be atrocious if government succumbs to this demand. This act protects children from the clutches of sexual predators like him. It was deliberately made to take sou motto cognisance of such acts, and offences remain non-bailable. It exposes the hypocrisy of the Modi government, which runs campaigns like Beti Bachao and Beti Padhao and protects accused like him too,” he added.
Surekha, President of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) Haryana, said she still receives reports about ongoing effigies burning programmes across the state. Some protests are scheduled to take place at night too. However, there has been a massive response to the appeal of protests today. People assembled at district headquarters, colonies and villages to express their resentment and raised slogans like “BJP Government Down Down, Arrest Brij Bhushan Singh Immediately.”
She said, “There has been a misinformation campaign about the ending of protests by wrestlers, and we are treating it as rumours only. The people are furious about the treatment meted out to our daughters. There is an innate sense among them to get justice delivered to our champions. BJP did try to treat this issue on caste lines, but they failed to get the impulse of the society and feeling that daughters belong to all.”
The protests were also seen in Bangalore in Karnataka, where nuns under the banner of the Conference of Religious India (CRI) denounced the action on wrestlers. In a written statement, Nirmalini Nazareth, President, CRI said, “Women wrestlers of India set high standards and show a mirror to those who do not dare to stand on principles, or even to stand in solidarity with brave women such as you and your fellow men wrestlers.”
“You stand as an example to women who are helpless in the face of recurring sexual harassment at the workplace or in the neighbourhood and public spaces because they are alone, weak, poor or trapped in poisonous relationships. We condemn the brutal and uncivilised manner in which the police behaved with you and forcibly terminated your rightful agitation at Jantar Mantar,” the statement read.
Nazareth added, “We also call upon the Union Government to take the steps necessary to see that justice takes its course in your complaints of sexual molestation and harassment. That one of the victims is a minor adds further urgency to this matter. That is a case where not only the police but also the National Commission for Protection of Children must act, invoke the powerful Law of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences, and move the Supreme Court as powerful political forces are protecting the accused.”
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