Protesting wrestlers defer plan to immerse medals in Ganga, give 5-day ultimatum

India’s prominent wrestlers Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat have deferred their plans to immerse their Olympic and world championship medals in the Ganga.

The decision came after a two-hour protest at Haridwar where the wrestlers were persuaded by farm leaders not to take this step. Bharatiya Kisan Union chief Naresh Tikait, who is also the brother of BKU spokesperson Rakesh Tikait, arrived at Har-ki-Pauri to lend support to the protesting wrestlers.

“They (wrestlers) need to be practising on mats in stadiums but have been ill-treated and forced to sit at Jantar Mantar and now at sacred Ganga Ghat. In fact, action should be taken against Brij Bhushan. We are with truth and as farmers’ agitation had shown, sooner or later victory will be of truth,” said Tikait.

Sakshi Malik has won one Olympic bronze and three medals at the Commonwealth Games. Vinesh Phogat has won two World Championship medals, two medals at Asiad and three Commonwealth Games medals. Bajrang Punia has won an Olympic bronze, four World Championships medals, two Asian Games and three Commonwealth Games medals.

“It seems that these medals decorated around our necks have no meaning any more,” read the statement in Hindi, tweeted by Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat. “The police and the system are treating us as criminals while the harasser openly attacks us in public meetings,” the wrestlers added.

“These medals are our lives, our souls. There would be no reason to live after throwing them in the Ganga today. So, we will stage a hunger strike until death at India Gate after that,” read the statement.

This comes two days after Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, Sangeeta Phogat, Sakshi Malik and several others were detained by Delhi Police on Sunday when they attempted to move towards the new Parliament building for ‘Mahila Mahapanchayat’.