West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday condemned the detention of wrestlers protesting at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, asserting that ”democracy lies in tolerance but autocratic forces thrive on intolerance and quelling of dissent”.
She demanded that the protesting wrestlers, including Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia, be released immediately. ”Strongly condemn the way Delhi Police manhandled Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat and other wrestlers. It’s shameful our champions are treated in this manner. ”Democracy lies in tolerance but autocratic forces thrive on intolerance and quelling of dissent. I demand they be immediately released by police. I stand by our wrestlers,” Banerjee said on Twitter.
In what could bring about a forceful end to the wrestlers’ protest at Jantar Mantar, the Delhi Police, earlier in the day, detained Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia for violation of law and order after they breached the security cordon while trying to move towards the new Parliament building for a planned women’s ‘Mahapanchayat’.
Immediately after the wrestlers were pushed into buses and taken to different unknown locations, the police officers began clearing the protest site by removing the cots, mattresses, coolers, fans and the tarpaulin ceiling along with other belongings of the wrestlers.
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The agitating wrestlers, including likes of Olympic medallists Punia, Sakshi and Asian Games gold winner Vinesh, have been demanding the arrest of outgoing Wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhushan Singh who they have accused of sexually harassing several women grapplers.
The wrestlers had said that the use of force by police would not deter them from going ahead with their peaceful march and the Mahapanchayat.