Several wrestlers, including Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik, have been detained as they tried to march to India’s new parliament building in New Delhi to demand the arrest of their federation chief over sexual harassment allegations.
India’s top wrestlers have been holding a sit-in for more than a month at Jantar Mantar in the heart of the Indian capital. They planned Sunday’s march to coincide with the inauguration of the new parliament by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The wrestlers originally held demonstrations in January to demand action again Wrestling Federation of India President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who has denied allegations of sexually harassing several female athletes.
The protest was withdrawn after Singh, also a member of parliament from Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, was stripped of all administrative powers by the sports ministry. The wrestlers resumed their protest on April 23 to demand Singh’s arrest.
“They broke the barricades and didn’t follow police directions,” senior Delhi Police officer Dependra Pathak told local media.
“They broke the law, and that’s why they were detained.”
Malik, who won the women’s 58kg freestyle bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics, shared photos and video of the wrestlers being dragged away by police.
“This is how our champions are being treated. The world is watching us,” she tweeted.