Jantar Mantar has again become a hotspot for controversy as a group of protesting wrestlers have been camped at the historical site and harassed the Legendary PT Usha. This group of protesters is led by Olympic medalists Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, and Bajrang Punia. The protesters are demanding an investigation for alleged acts of sexual harassment committed against their members by the President of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. The protesting athletes demand an “immediate arrest” of Brij Bhushan Singh. They approached the Supreme Court to serve justice to their cause and asked for an intervention from it.
In response to their call for “fair Justice”, the Supreme Court had directed the Delhi Police to file FIRs against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. Currently, Singh is facing two charges. The first charge is under the POCSO Act based on the allegations of harassment of a minor. The second charge is for the complaints filed by the other complainants pertaining to outraging the modesty of a woman.
THE SEVEN-MEMBER INVESTIGATION INITIATED BY IOA
In January 2023, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) had formed a seven-member committee to investigate similar charges against the WFI President. This committee was led by M.C. Mary Kom. The committee members included wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, Dola Banerjee, Sahdev Yadav and others. In February, Vinesh Phogat accused committee members of leaking information during the investigative process. Thereby causing a delay in the investigations of the committee. The final investigative report remains pending.
SHAMING INDIA AT A GLOBAL PLATFORM
The protesting athletes have been deeply critical about the stance of PT Usha, the current President of IOA and a member of Rajya Sabha from 2022. Although the President of the IOA has followed the standard operating procedures for such complaints, the protesting athletes continue to publicly shame her and the IOA.
PT Usha had stated in a media report, that the protesting athletes should have shown faith in the system and herself. She also stated that these athletes have shamed India at a global platform. Her statement had drawn a significant backlash from netizens and opposition parties. However, the media has not publicized the cause of PT Usha’s claim.
Her statement was based on the submission of a written complaint By Them to The United World Wrestling (UWW), an international body that governs the sport of amateur wrestling.
In response to the letter, the UWW decided to not grant India the hosting rights of the Asian Championship.
HARASSING THE PRESIDENT OF IOA
On 3rd of May 2023 PT Usha, who has inspired countless Indian girls in the field of sports, went to Jantar Mantar to meet with the protesting athletes. She tried to express her solidarity as a woman and as an athlete with the protesting group. She tried to request the athletes to continue to have faith in IOA.
The protestors and their supporters surrounded PT Usha and decided to convey their dissatisfaction by heckling the IOA President. They physically surrounded her, disregarding her safety and personal space, and abused her with loud words and accusations. Vinesh Phogat and her fellow protestors repeatedly state their deep respect for PT Usha while they show little faith in her ability to solve their grievance.
THE BIG QUESTIONS ON LAURELS AND MEDALS
In a recent media interview, Vinesh Phogat questioned the need for athletes to strive to raise the Indian Flag in sports forums across the globe. She portrayed herself as a disillusioned athlete. She repeatedly states in interviews that the prominent medal winning athletes should be respected and believed in totality. However, Vinesh Phogat and her followers have forgotten PT Usha’s contribution to Indian athletics.
PT Usha has won a total of 14 gold medals and 9 silver medals for India at various international athletic competitions. She has been crowned as the “Queen of Indian Track and Field” by the people of India. PT Usha was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2019, Padma Shri in 1985, and the Arjuna Award in 1984 in recognition for her contribution to sports.
The media and protesters hounded PT Usha yesterday when she attempted to hold a meaningful discussion with the athletes. She was insulted and chased out of Jantar Mantar by the protesting athletes and their supporters. The trend of misbehavior continued to escalate as the protestors initiated a scuffle with the Delhi Police.
OBSERVATIONS FOR THE COMMON MAN
The Indian judicial system has been trying to work within the bounds of law to resolve the controversy. Lately the protesting athletes’ agenda is taking a political angle. The opposition parties have been inciting unruly slogans and jeers in the name of this protest. This protest is taking the well trod path of the farmer’s protest and the CAA protest. The liberals have been successful at distracting the common Indians from understanding the underlying cause of this “toolkit” protest.
Accosting and harassing a senior woman athlete and the President of the IOA, has made the position of the protestors worse in the eye of the casual observer. Vinesh Phogat and her associates must reconsider the values and cause that the protestors are trying to project to India and the world. Currently, the protesting athletes come forth as a rowdy group of protestors who do not have justice as their final goal.