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Mahila Mahapanchayat: Barricades Broken, Wrestlers Detained Following a Scuffle with Police

While videos showed a scuffle breaking out between protesters and police personnel, a few female police officers can also be seen forcefully dragging a woman away from the protest site.
Mahila Mahapanchayat

Wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Sangita Phogat, Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. Photo courtesy: PTI


Following a scuffle between the police and protesting wrestlers and grapplers marching towards the new parliament building, barricades were broken and several were detained by the police.

According to reports, wrestler Bajrang Punia was also detained by security personnel.

While videos showed a scuffle breaking out between protesters and police personnel, a few female police officers can also be seen forcefully dragging a woman away from the protest site.

"Mahapanchayat will certainly be held today. We're fighting for our self-respect. They're inaugurating the new Parliament building today, but murdering democracy in the country. We appeal to the administration to release our people detained by police," wrestler Bajrang Punia was quoted as saying earlier on Sunday.

Reporters of several news portals were not allowed to enter the protest site amid the mega march -- barring a select few such as ANI and PTI

Mahila Mahapanchayat

Photo by Satyam Tiwari

Meanwhile, a jatha of farmers from Ambala in Haryana and Rajasthan was on its way to participate in the Mahila Mahapanchayat.

The agitating wrestlers, Khap panchayats of various states and farmers, demanding the arrest of former Wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhushan Singh who they alleged sexually harassed several women grapplers, had given a call for a Mahila Mahapanchayat on Sunday, the day of the inauguration of the Parliament building by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The administration has given them the permission to take out the march from Jantar Mantar to the new Parliament building.

"We will go ahead with the Mahila Mahapanchayat, come what may. Our supporters have been stopped at a gurudwara in Ambala where they were supposed to stay tonight. It has now been converted into a cantonment," Asian Games gold winner Vinesh Phogat had said on Saturday.

The wrestlers, in the run-up to the Mahapanchayat, have toured several cities in north India urging womenfolk and khaps to lend their support to their protest.

Vinesh had said earlier that even if force is used on them on Sunday, the march will remain peaceful.

"Wherever we are stopped, we will sit there and have the Mahapanchayat."

She alleged that raids were being conducted at the houses of people supporting them.

"There have been raids at the house of our supporters but the women supporters will reach Delhi for the Mahapanchayat."

The Jantar Mantar, the site of the protest for more than a month now, looked virtually out of bounds with a huge posse of police personnel keeping a close watch on the wrestlers and their supporters.

"It's a really difficult (situation). We don't know what the future holds for us. Whether we will be alive or dead," said Vinesh, who cried inconsolably during the press conference.

"We wanted justice but something else is happening. Our supporters are being harassed as if we are criminals and not Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh," she added.

On Friday, Vinesh had said if Brij Bhushan attends the inauguration of the new Parliament building on Sunday, it will send a clear message about the state of affairs in the country.

"If Brij Bhushan is there at the new Parliament on May 28, then the whole country will automatically get the message," Vinesh had said when asked what kind of message it will convey if the WFI chief is present during the inauguration.

"Whosoever is trying to save Brij Bhushan, is against us. I don't know what is happening internally in the government but someone is trying to shield him and it is not right, he is harming the women of this country."

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