Security was tightened at Delhi’s border points on Thursday in view of a call for nationwide demonstrations given by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) in support of wrestlers protesting against Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
Security personnel are maintaining strict vigil at the border points and extra pickets have been put up to prevent any untoward incident, Delhi Police officials said. “Security has been tightened, extra police personnel have been deployed and we have also set up extra pickets at Delhi’s borders. We want to ensure that law and order is maintained and no untoward incident takes place. This has been done as a precautionary measure,” a senior police officer said.
Vehicles entering Delhi from neighbouring states are being checked at the borders, he said.
The SKM, an umbrella body of farmers’ unions, had on Tuesday called for nationwide protests on June 1 in support of wrestlers who have been demanding the arrest of Singh for allegedly sexually harassing female grapplers, including a minor. In a statement, the SKM had said its call for demonstrations was aimed at securing the democratic right to protest by the Indian wrestlers and all other sections of society, and to demand the arrest of Singh, who is also a BJP MP.
It said it would coordinate with platforms of trade unions, women, youth, students and all other sections, including intellectuals, to stage demonstrations. The wrestlers, who had been protesting at Jantar Mantar since April 23 seeking the arrest of Singh, were removed from the site by the Delhi Police on Sunday after they tried to march to the new Parliament building that was inaugurated the same day.
They were detained and later let off.
Meanwhile, world wrestling body United World Wrestling has issued a statement of concern about the Wrestling Federation of India and wrestlers protest. It has criticised the detention of grapplers and sought an impartial probe into the entire episode.
The statement by United World Wrestling reads, “For several months, United World Wrestling has followed with great concern the situation in India where wrestlers are protesting over allegations of abuse and harassment by the President of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI). It has taken due note that the WFI President has been put aside at an early stage and is currently not in charge. The events of these last days are even more worrying that the wrestlers were arrested and temporarily detained by the police for initiating a march of protest. The site where they had been protesting for more than a month has also been cleared out by the authorities.”
It reads further, “UWW firmly condemns the treatment and detention of the wrestlers. It expresses its disappointment over the lack of results of the investigations so far. UWW urges the relevant authorities to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the allegations. As it has already done since the beginning of this situation, UWW will hold a meeting with the wrestlers to inquire about their condition and safety and reconfirm our support for a fair and just resolution of their concerns. Finally, UWW will request further information about the next elective general assembly from the IOA and the Ad-hoc Committee of the WFI. The 45-day deadline that was initially set to hold this elective assembly shall be respected. Failing to do so may lead UWW to suspend the federation, thereby forcing the athletes to compete under a neutral flag. It is reminded that UWW already took a measure in this situation by reallocating the Asian Championship planned in New Delhi earlier this year.”