Arrogant king crushing voice of people: Oppn on police action against wrestlers
Strong objections and criticism came in from various Opposition leaders after Delhi Police detained ace wrestlers Vinesh and Sangeeta Phogat, Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia for violation of law and order
The Opposition on Sunday attacked the Modi government over the detention of protesting wrestlers by the Delhi Police, ahead of their planned march to the site of the new parliament building, inaugurated today, 28 May.
Former Indian National Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said that with the "coronation" over, the "arrogant king is crushing the voice of the people" on the streets. Along with his tweet, he tagged a video montage of the police detaining the champion wresters.
While Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge criticised the Central government's "forcible" removal and "manhandling" of the wrestlers protesting at Jantar Mantar and trying to march towards the parliament house, AICC (All India Congress Committee) general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said the "arrogance" of the BJP government has increased so much that it is "mercilessly trampling" the voices of our women sportspersons under its boots.
Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate took a swipe at the new inauguration of the new parliament building by Prime Minister Narendra Modi too, and said, "When a dictator was carrying out his raj tilak, women were being dragged. Delhi was converted into a cantonment. You will follow 'raj dharam' if you throw out [Brij Bhushan Sharan] Singh."
"It is a black day. History is witness that a prime minister was thinking himself to be king, [a] parliament was inaugurated while women were dishonoured nearby and he remained blindfolded," Shrinate added.
She accused Prime Minister Modi and home minister Amit Shah of trying to save Brij Bhushan Singh.
Mahila Congress chief Netta D'Souza alleged that the BJP has lived up to its "tradition" of atrocities on women.
"[The] women had flags in their hands, the national flags were insulted. Action should be taken against police personnel for insulting the national flag," she added.
Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Jayant Chaudhary raised a slogan of "down with dictatorship". The party has sought a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the allegations by the wrestlers.
The strong attack by the Opposition party leaders came after the Delhi Police detained ace wrestlers 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'.
The champion wrestlers had resumed their agitation against former Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh on April 23, demanding his arrest for alleged sexual harassment of several women grapplers, including a minor.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal also condemned the police detention of wrestlers. "Such treatment to the sportsperson who brought laurels to the country is grossly wrong and condemnable," he said. (It may be recalled here that earlier this month the Supreme Court ruled that while a large part of Delhi's administrative services should be governed by the national capital's elected cabinet, the police force was one of the things that stayed in the control of the Central government for reasons of security.)
Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee also strongly condemned the way the Delhi Police manhandled Malik, 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," she said.
Also Read: Wrestlers' Protest: The Fight of Their Lives
The Left parties also hit out at the Central government over the police action against the protesting wrestlers.
CPI MP Binoy Viswam said the salutations to the sengol came at the cost of "beatings to wrestlers".
CPI (M-L) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya said, "Massive crackdown is going on in Delhi on women wrestlers and other citizens assembling for the Mahila Samman Panchayat even as the inauguration of the new parliament building resembles the coronation of a king. Brutal assault on democracy and the constitutional spirit and vision."
Attacking the government in a tweet in Hindi, Priyanka Gandhi said the medals on the chest of these players are the "pride of our country". She continued: "With those medals, due to the hard work of the sportspersons, the honour of the country increases. The arrogance of the BJP government has increased so much that the it is mercilessly trampling the voices of our women players under its boots. This is totally wrong." The whole country is watching the "arrogance" of the government and its injustice, she added.
Congress general secretary, communications, Jairam Ramesh said, "Today, when the prime minister was inaugurating the new parliament house and giving a discourse on democracy, the daughters who brought laurels to the country by winning medals were being detained just a short distance away from Parliament."
"This is shameful and shows the real face of Modi government," Ramesh said in a tweet in Hindi.
Earlier, chaotic scenes were witnessed at Jantar Mantar as wrestlers and police officers shoved and pushed each other when Vinesh Phogat, her cousin Sangeeta Phogat, and Sakshi Malik tried to breach the barricades.
The police had warned the wrestlers not to move towards the parliament building, where traffic restrictions were in place, but they went ahead, leading to the scuffle. The police then subdued the wrestlers, who were advancing with the national flag in hand, and dragged and lifted them into buses along with several of their supporters.
An image of the Phogat being pushed down, while the tricolour still held in one of their hands trailed on the ground, was shared by Sakshi Malik on Twitter and has since gone viral across social media. Along with the other images she posted, Malik's caption asked: "Does any government get the champions of their nation treated this way? What wrong have we done?"
(With PTI inputs)