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Rediff.com  » Sports » 'It's not easy to muster courage to take on a powerful man'

'It's not easy to muster courage to take on a powerful man'

Source: PTI
June 17, 2023 18:41 IST
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Satyawart Kadian and Sakshi Malik reiterated that their protest was not politically motivated

IMAGE: Wrestlers Satyawart Kadian and Sakshi Malik reiterated that their protest was not politically motivated. Photograph: Twitter

Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik and her wrestler husband Satyawart Kadian on Saturday insisted that their protest was not politically motivated and they kept mum for years despite facing harassment because the wrestling fraternity was not united earlier.

In a video posted on Twitter, Kadian said a false narrative was being created around their protest and they wanted to clear the air.

 

Country's top wrestlers including Malik, Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia, accused outgoing Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh of sexual harassment and intimidation.

Leaders from different political parties, including Congress' Priyanka Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and former J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik visited the protest site, extending their support to the wrestlers before they were removed from Jantar Mantar on May 28.

Kadian, sitting beside Malik, said rumours were being spread about their protest.

"Let me make it clear that our protest is not politically-motivated. We came (to Jantar Mantar) in January, and permission was taken by two BJP leaders seeking police permission," Kadian said and asked Malik to show the letter, seeking permission for protest.

The letter was written by former wrestler Babita Phogat and Teerath Rana, who are both associated with the BJP.

"This (protest) is not Congress supported. More than 90 per cent people (in wrestling fraternity) knew that for last 10-12 years, it (harassment and intimidation) has been going on. A few people wanted to raise their voices but wrestling fraternity was not united," he said.

Kadian, who competes in heavy-weight category, reiterated that their fight is against the WFI chief and not against the government.

Malik said they were silent for years because wresters were not united.

"You have seen that the minor has retracted her statement. Her family was intimidated. These wrestlers come from poor families. It's not easy to muster courage to take on a powerful man," the Rio Games bronze medallist said.

Kadian said the police brutality they faced on May 28 broke them. The police had detained them and pushed them into buses, an action that faced criticism from all quarters.

The wrestlers were booked for violating law and order as they marched towards the new parliament building without permission.

"Let me make it clear that the call for 'Mahila Samman Mahapanchayat' was made by the Khap leaders and we followed their order and faced police brutality. That broke us.

"We won so many medals for country and our dignity was being trampled. I can't explain in words what we went through.

"We then decided to immerse medals in (Haridwar) but one man from the tantra (system) grabbed Bajrang's arm and took him to a corner and made him speak with many (influential) people.

"If we had done that (immersed medals), there could have been violence. So, better sense prevailed. We gave the medals to coaches and parents.

"We were not in a mental state to understand if there's a conspiracy. We had gone their under stress. We have just wrestled our whole life, did not know how to handle (the situation).

"After that incident, we did not know who was on our side, who was part of the system. We met a lot of people but did not know whom to trust. We were advised to meet the Home Minister, we were told that we will get solution from there, so we put across our view point."

He also appealed to the Khaps, who they believe got angry with them, to not believe in rumours.

"If we have done something wrong, we apologise," he said and thanked everyone, who came out to support them.

Towards the end of the 11-minute long video, Kadian said,"The system takes advantage when 'we are not united'. If you are facing any sort of injustice, do raise your voice and stay united."

The police has filed a charge-sheet against Singh, charging him under stalking and sexual harassment offences.

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