Wrestlers detained, Delhi Police clear protest site

Security personnel detain wrestler Sakshi Malik. Photo: PTI/Kamal Singh

New Delhi: In what could bring about a forceful end to wrestlers' protest at Jantar Mantar, the Delhi police on Sunday 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 women's 'Mahapanchayat'.

Immediately after the wrestlers were pushed into buses and taken to an unknown location, the police officers began clearing the protest site by removing the cots, mattresses, cooler fans and the tarpaulin ceiling along with other belongings of the wrestlers.

The champion wrestlers had resumed their agitation against Wresting Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh on April 23, demanding his arrest.

Chaotic scenes were witnessed at Jantar Mantar as wrestlers and police officers shoved and pushed each other when Vinesh and her cousin Sangeeta Phogat tried to breach the barricades.

Vinesh provided a strong resistance against her detention and Sangeeta clung to her cousin while lying on the road as the struggle continued for a few dramatic minutes.

Vinesh Phogat
Security personnel detain Vinesh Phogat. Photo: PTI /Kamal Singh

The police officials dragged and lifted them into buses along several other wresters and their supporters.

A teary-eyed Vinesh, later, said from a bus that they are being punished for demanding justice.

"The accused is roaming free, he is being given shelter by the government and we athletes who won medals for the country are now being put in jail for demanding justice for country's daughters," she said.

Sangeeta Phogat after being detained by the Delhi Police. Photo: PTI /Kamal Singh

Ironically, both Bajrang and Vinesh were detained just metres away from Brij Bhushan's official residence at 21, Ashoka Road.

"They have been detained for violating law and order. We will take legal action after inquiry in due course of time," said Dependra Pathak, Special CP, Law and Order.

The Delhi Police had beefed up security at Jantar Mantar following protesting wrestlers' call for a 'Mahila Samman Mahapanchayat' before the new Parliament building on Sunday.

The new building was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi early this morning.

Thousands of police personnel were deployed and multiple layers of barricades were in place in the Lutyens' Delhi. The wrestlers, staging a sit-in protest at Jantar Mantar, which is about two kilometres from the Parliament building, had said they will go ahead with their 'Mahapanchayat' at any cost.

However, Police had made it clear in the morning that no protester will be allowed to move towards Parliament since they have not been granted permission for 'Mahapanchat' and the wrestlers should not be involved in any "anti-national activity".

The agitating wrestlers, including the likes of Olympic medallists Bajranj, Sakshi and Asian Games gold winner Vinesh have been demanding the arrest of Brij Bhushan who they have accused of sexually harassing several women grapplers.

The wrestlers had said that use of force by police will not deter them from going ahead with their peaceful march and the Mahapanchayat.

According to the live location shared by one of the wrestlers' supporters from the moving bus, they were being moved towards Tikri border.

In another video shared by the wrestlers, Sakshi's husband Satyawart Kadian and Jiternder Kinha were seen shouting slogan 'Inqalab Jindabad' along with several others as the police vehicle whisked them away. 

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