Anil Kumble, the former captain of the Indian cricket team, expressed his dismay on Tuesday regarding the treatment of wrestlers who were detained by the Delhi Police and removed from their protest site at Jantar Mantar on May 28. Prominent wrestlers such as Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, and Bajrang Punia, along with numerous supporters, have now arrived in Haridwar to immerse their hard-earned medals in the Ganga river. The local police have strengthened security arrangements near the area in response.
Kumble took to Twitter to voice his concern, stating, “Dismayed to hear about what transpired on the 28th of May with our wrestlers being manhandled. Anything can be resolved through proper dialogue. Hoping for a resolution at the earliest.” The wrestlers have been protesting against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the outgoing chief of the Wrestling Federation of India, citing allegations of sexual harassment.
Initially, the wrestlers had announced their intention to immerse their medals and engage in a hunger strike until death at the India Gate. Notably, Vinesh Phogat became the first Indian woman wrestler to win gold at the Asian Games, in addition to an Asia bronze. She has also claimed three gold medals at the Commonwealth Games and two bronze medals at the Wrestling World Championships. Bajrang Punia, on the other hand, won bronze at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and has achieved gold and silver at the Asian Games, a silver and three bronze medals in the Wrestling World Championships, as well as two golds and a silver at the Commonwealth Games. Sakshi Malik, who is the only female Indian wrestler to have won an Olympic medal, has also secured a gold, a silver, and a bronze at the Commonwealth Games.
In Haridwar, Sakshi, Vinesh, and Vinesh’s cousin Sangeeta were seen sobbing at Har ki Pauri, while their husbands attempted to console them. Scores of supporters formed a protective cordon around them. After reaching Har ki Pauri, the wrestlers stood in silence for approximately 20 minutes, visibly distressed as they held their citations while sitting on the riverbank.
The emotional scene in Haridwar highlights the wrestlers’ deep connection to their hard-earned achievements and their determination to bring attention to the alleged misconduct within the Wrestling Federation of India. As they await a swift resolution, the solidarity expressed by Anil Kumble and others amplifies the call for a fair and respectful dialogue to address the wrestlers’ concerns.