New Delhi: India's first individual Olympic gold medallist shooter Abhinav Bindra has denounced the police action against the country's top wrestlers at Jantar Mantar, saying the horrific images had left him "sleepless" and "haunted".
Unprecedented scenes of police dragging Olympic and World Championships medallists, including Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sangeeta Phogat, were witnessed when the wrestlers and their supporters breached the security cordon ahead of their march towards the new Parliament building for the planned women's 'Mahapanchayat'.
The grapplers are demanding the arrest of outgoing Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh for allegedly sexually harassing several women wrestlers, including a minor. They had called for a women's Mahapanchayat at the new Parliament building at a time when it was being inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"Last night was sleepless, haunted by the horrifying images of my fellow Indian wrestlers protesting," tweeted Bindra, even as India's most successful footballer Sunil Chhetri and former India all-rounder Irfan Pathan too criticised the action against the wrestlers.
"It's high time we establish independent safeguarding measures across sporting organizations. We must ensure that if such situations arise, they are dealt with utmost sensitivity and respect. Every athlete deserves a safe and empowering environment," added Bindra, the 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medallist in air rifle.
On Sunday, as the wrestlers tried to breach the barricades and march towards the new Parliament building from Jantar Mantar, the police personnel shoved and pushed them before detaining them and taking them to different police stations in Delhi.
Vinesh provided a strong resistance against her detention and Sangeeta clung on to her cousin while lying on the road as the struggle continued for a few minutes. The police officials dragged and lifted them into buses along with several other wrestlers and their supporters.
Though they were released after seven hours of detention, it left several athletes in other disciplines anguished.
"Why does it have to come down to our wrestlers being dragged around without any consideration? This isn't the way to treat anyone. I really hope this whole situation is assessed the way it should be," said Indian football captain Chhetri.
Pathan said a solution to the issue should be found immediately.
"I'm so sad to see the visuals of our Athletes. Please solve this ASAP," Pathan tweeted.