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All the celebrities who have spoken out about the wrestlers protest in India

Amidst the grand inauguration of the new Indian Parliament, another event has been unfolding in the capital that has sparked an online debate – the Indian wrestlers’ protest. Some of India’s top athletes have been protesting on the streets of Delhi for a few months now. The reason? Allegations of sexual harassment against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh – the head of India’s wrestling federation.

The protest, which in itself was in the headlines, generated further controversy when the Delhi Police started assaulting and arresting some of the wrestlers. Recently, the farmers who were instrumental in organising the 2020–2021 Indian farmers’ protest have also sided with the protestors, demanding an immediate investigation of the WFI Chief.

If you want to catch up on all the developments related to the wrestlers’ protest, here’s everything you need to know.

The wrestlers protest: What is it?

Earlier in January, some of India’s top wrestlers, including Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat, levied serious allegations of sexual harassment against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), including its President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and other senior officials. After the government assured setting up an oversight committee to look into the allegations, the protests were waived off. At the same time, the Sports Ministry also stripped all senior WFI employees of their administrative powers.

However, the report of the committee was not made public. The wrestlers believed this was indicative of a clean chit being given to the WFI and its top officials. Sakshi Malik even said in a statement to the media that she believes “the culprits got a clean chit”.

As such, the protest resumed, with more athletes joining the wrestlers to convey their support. The wrestlers even wrote a letter to P. T. Usha, head of the Indian Olympics Association, in which they stated that Vinesh Phogat was mentally harassed and tortured by Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh after she missed out on winning a medal in the 2021 Olympics.

When did the protest begin?

The protest was initially kicked off by Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia on January 18 in New Delhi, wherein they accused Singh and several other WFI coaches of sexually harassing female wrestlers. Later, Vinesh Phogat joined in the protests with the same accusations.

How have the authorities responded to the wrestlers’ protest?

In the initial phase of the protest, the government had undertaken an enquiry into the matter by forming a dedicated committee. At the time, it was promised that the committee’s report would be released within four weeks. However, the committee submitted its report in April without making its findings public.

The protests later resumed after the Delhi Police neither filed a case against Singh nor carried out any enquiry. The protesting wrestlers eventually sought intervention from the Supreme Court of India, demanding the immediate arrest of Singh. The Supreme Court too questioned the Delhi Police as to why it wasn’t investigating such a serious allegation.

Eventually, the Delhi Police filed two FIRs against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and is currently probing the case. On May 28, however, the Delhi Police ended up arresting the protestors instead when they were protesting the inauguration of the new parliament building.

Some cabinet ministers have also recently commented on the matter. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, “The matter is being investigated. The government will take action in the matter once the investigation is over.”

Additionally, Sports Minister Anurag Thakur urged the wrestlers to not go ahead with the immersion of their medals in the river Ganga. He said in a press statement, “I urge the wrestlers to be patient till the outcome of the investigation. I also urge them not to take any step that could undermine sports or hurt any sportsperson.”

‘Medals in the Ganga’ controversy

After the manhandling of the protesters by the Delhi Police, some of the protesting wrestlers decided that they will immerse their medals in River Ganges.  In a post on Twitter, Sakshi Malik, who won an Olympic bronze medal in 2016, stated that she will go to Haridwar along with the other protestors to immerse their hard-earned medals in the Ganga River.

The protestors reached Haridwar’s Har Ki Pauri and were seen sitting by the banks of the river. However, they cancelled their plans to immerse the medals after the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) president Naresh Tikait reached out and asked them to defer their decision by five days.

Wrestlers’ protest: Celebrities who have spoken out

Throughout the protest, several celebrities have come forward to voice their support for the wrestlers via social media.

Naseeruddin Shah expressed his views on the protest, telling PTI in an interview, “When has the Hindi film industry ever rolled up its sleeves and tackled a subject which is crying out to be tackled? Will anyone make a film on these girl wrestlers who brought us medals…? Will anyone dare make a film? Because they are scared of the repercussions. It is nothing new that the Hindi film industry is keeping mum on important issues, they always have.”

Other than Shah, here are some other celebrities, including Neeraj Chopra, Sania Mirza and Tahira Kashyap, who have spoken out so far:


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Hero and Featured Images: Courtesy KABIR JHANGIANI/NurPhoto via AFP

This story first appeared on Augustman India.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question: Why are wrestlers protesting in Delhi?

Answer: The wrestlers have been protesting in Delhi because of the inaction of the government over the sexual harassment allegations levied by female wrestlers against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the Head of the WFI.

Question: What did Naseeruddin Shah say about the wrestler's protest?

Answer: Naseeruddin Shah pointed out Bollywood’s inability to make a film on topics related to sexual harassment of female athletes in India.

Question: How long have the wrestlers been protesting?

Answer: The wrestlers have been protesting since January 18, 2023.

All the celebrities who have spoken out about the wrestlers protest in India

Amritanshu lives and breathes tech, cars, Formula 1, space stuff and everything that delivers an adrenaline rush. Since 2016, he converted his favorite hobby of going all gaga over iPhones and Lamborghinis into his profession; hence, you aren’t likely to be surprised upon checking his browser history. In his spare time, he loves to drive and explore food joints, but will somehow end up with a plate of Chicken Biryani and a big smile. He has previously written for Hindustan Times, India Today, BGR.in, and Deccan Chronicle.

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