Indian women wrestlers staged a ‘candlelight’ march in the capital, Delhi, against alleged harassment of young women athletes.
More than 1,000 protesters in the march have demanded the resignation and arrest of the president of the wrestling federation.
According to the news agency Associated Press, on Tuesday, protesters raised the national flag of India and marched to the ‘India Gate’, which is located near the country’s parliament building. A heavy contingent of police was deployed on the march route.
Olympic medalists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik are part of the protest and have threatened to return their medals if no action is taken against Wrestling Federation of India president Brijbhushan Sharan Singh.
Many members of opposition parties and farmers’ organisations have also taken part in this protest. Most of the Indian wrestlers hail from the northern states of Haryana and Punjab.
They accused Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, a 66-year-old lawmaker representing the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, of sexually harassing seven young female wrestlers.
Brij Bhushan Singh denied these allegations and termed the opposition Congress party’s protest “political’.
World Championship, Commonwealth Games, and Asian Games wrestling medalist Vinesh Phogat had claimed in January that several coaches had exploited women wrestlers on the instructions of the WFI president.
Indian police are investigating allegations of sexual harassment against Brij Bhushan Singh and have also questioned him in the matter.
The Supreme Court of India has also admitted that there are “serious allegations of sexual harassment” in the case, but the leaders of the ruling party, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have remained silent on the issue.
When the protests began in January, Indian Sports Minister Anurag Singh Thakur asked the federation’s president to “step aside and help the investigation.”
He also said that a committee would be set up to probe the allegations and issue a report within four weeks.
Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh continues to be the head of the federation and since then no report has been issued even after several months. Women wrestlers resumed protests in April, saying they would not back down until Brij Bhushan Singh was arrested.