TMC approaches NHRC, files case against Delhi Police for 'manhandling' protesting women wrestlers

Security personnel detain wrestlers Vinesh Phogat and Sangeeta Phogat during wrestlers' protest march towards new Parliament building, in New Delhi, Sunday, May 28, 2023. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: The TMC has filed a case with the National Human Rights Commission seeking action against the Delhi Police for "manhandling and assaulting" protesting women wrestlers at Jantar Mantar here, party spokesperson Saket Gokhale said Tuesday.

The protesting wrestlers, including Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia, were detained on Sunday after they breached the security cordon while trying to move towards the new Parliament building. Soon after, the Delhi Police cleared the site of their over month-long sit-in at Jantar Mantar and said they will not be allowed to return there.

"On behalf of my party TMC (@AITCofficial), have filed a case with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) seeking action against Delhi Police for manhandling and assaulting our protesting women wrestlers. This is not only a violation of their fundamental right to protest but also a violation of their rights as women.

"We appeal to @India_NHRC to be objective and impartial and take swift action on this," Gokhale tweeted.

Gokhale also said that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had earlier condemned the alleged violence unleashed by the Modi government and the Delhi Police against the women wrestlers.

"We stand unflinchingly with our women wrestlers and demand justice for them," he said.

The wrestlers had been protesting at Jantar Mantar since April 23 against Wrestling Federation of India chief and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh accusing him of sexually harassing women grapplers.

In the complaint to NHRC, the party has said that on May 28, 2023, the protesting women wrestlers were "brutally manhandled and assaulted by the Delhi Police despite the fact that they were unarmed and were protesting peacefully".

It also provided the apex human rights body some links to videos and photos of the protesting women wrestlers being "manhandled and beaten up" by the Delhi Police as "prima facie evidence".

The party said that peaceful protest is a fundamental right of every Indian citizen in a democracy and since the protest concerns a "grave offense" of sexual harassment against women wrestlers which is a "grave human rights violation".

"By manhandling these peacefully protesting women wrestlers, the Delhi Police has not only trampled on their fundamental right to protest but has also violated their human rights. This is even more serious because the protesters were women who deserve protection from the police and not manhandling and assault," the complaint said.

It said that this complaint is being filed with the NHRC, appealing for an urgent investigation and swift action into this incident.

"It is hoped that the NHRC will treat this with the due urgency that this complaint deserves and ensure justice for our women wrestlers who have alleged sexual harassment and are now being manhandled and beaten up purely for demanding justice," it said. 

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