Several wrestlers, including Olympic medalists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik, were detained as they tried to march to India’s new parliament building in New Delhi to demand the arrest of their federation president on sexual harassment charges.
India’s top wrestlers have sat for more than a month at the Jantar Mantar observatory in the heart of the Indian capital. They planned Sunday’s march to coincide with the inauguration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new parliament.
Wrestlers initially staged a demonstration in January demanding renewed action from Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, president of the Indian Wrestling Federation, who has denied allegations of sexual harassment of several female athletes.
Singh, who is also an MP for Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, was stripped of all executive powers by the sports ministry after the protests were withdrawn. The wrestlers resumed their protest on April 23 calling for Singh’s arrest.
“They broke through the barricades and did not follow the instructions of the police,” Delhi senior police officer Dependra Pathak told local media.
“They broke the law and that’s why they were detained.”
Malik, who won a bronze medal in the women’s 58kg freestyle at the Rio 2016 Olympics, shared photos and videos of wrestlers being dragged away by police.
“This is how our champions are treated. The world is watching us,” she tweeted.