Tokyo Olympics gold medallist and three-time world champion wrestler Risako Kawai of Japan has come out in support of the protesting Indian wrestlers in their fight against former WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
Top Indian wrestlers, including Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik have been protesting at the iconic Jantar Mantar here demanding the arrest of Brij Bhushan, who has been accused of sexual harassment of seven women athletes, including a minor.
"I hope it will be an environment where Indian athletes can practice with peace of mind," Kawai wrote retweeting a BBC News video on the wrestlers' protest. Kawai, who won the 57kg women's freestyle gold in Tokyo, is the first high-profile international wrestler to come out in support of the protesting Indian wrestlers.
- 川井梨紗子 risako kinjo kawai (@risako_kawai) May 25, 2023
Both Vinesh and Bajrang are probable medallists at this year's Asian Games in Hangzhou, China but hey have not been practising for over a month, demanding justice for the alleged victims.
The Delhi Police have filed two FIRs -- one related to the complaints of a minor wrestler under the Prevention of Child Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act -- against Brij Bhushan, but a concrete step is yet to taken as the investigation is still on.
If Brij Bhushan attends inauguration of new Parliament, country will get the message: Vinesh
Meanwhile, Vinesh said on Friday that if Brij Bhushan were to attend the inauguration of the new Parliament building on May 28, it will send a clear message about the state of affairs in the country.
As part of their fight against Singh, the protesting wrestlers will now hold a women's Mahapanchayat before the new Parliament building on Sunday, the day of its inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"If Brij Bhushan is there at the new Parliament on May 28, then the whole country will automatically get the message," Vinesh said when asked what kind of message it will convey if WFI chief is present during the inauguration.
"Whosoever is trying to save Brij Bhushan, is against us. I don't know what is happening internally in the government but someone is trying to shield him and it is not right, he is harming the women of this country."
Asked if it is a demand of the wrestlers to not allow Singh to attend the inauguration of the new Parliament building, Vinesh tried to make her point with an example.
"When a letter was issued against me for indiscipline after Tokyo Olympics and on the basis of that, if he can stop me from meeting the Prime Minister, can get my name removed from the list, then just imagine, there are so many allegations against him.
"Even after all that if he attends the Parliament on Sunday then you can understand where the country is heading." The protesting wrestlers are, however, yet to get permission from the Delhi Police for the Mahapanchayat.
Asked how can they proceed with the Mahapanchayat if they don't get the permission, Vinesh said: "Law is for the people. I know there is an event of PM but who will give justice to the daughters of this country?"
While the first FIR relates to allegations by the minor wrestler and has been registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, the second is related to outraging modesty.
On Thursday, Brij Bhushan said the law is being "misused" and under the leadership of seers, "we will force the government to change" it.
"So many people have fought for this act. Every day we come across so many news of five-year-old and six-year-old girls getting raped, if POCSO is banned, who will give justice to these girls?," Vinesh said.
"This act came into existence after a lot of deliberation. What does he want that people like him keep exploiting women and no one can punish them, so ban POCSO.