In an unexpected twist to the tale of wrestlers protests, it was reported that one of the protesting wrestlers Sakshi Malik has on Monday withdrawn from the protests, days after meeting Union Home Minister Amit Shah amid their month-long agitation. The wrestling champions are protesting with the demand to arrest BJP MP and Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Singh, whom they accused of sexually harassing the women wrestlers.
30-year-old Sakshi Malik, a native of Haryana, is a railway employee where she works as OSD - Officer on Special Duty (Sports) in Indian Railways. She has been one of the wrestlers who led the protests against Brij Bhushan Singh in Delhi for over a month. Singh was accused of sexually harassing the women wrestlers including a minor. Based on the complaint from seven wrestlers, Delhi police filed two FIRs against the BJP MP.
One of the FIRs was filed under the Protection Of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act for harassing a minor wrestler. However, as neither the Delhi police nor the ruling BJP regime initiated a concrete action against Brij Bhushan Singh, the wrestlers including Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, and Bajrang Punia have been protesting in Delhi with a demand to arrest Singh. The wrestlers had escalated their protests and their recent march towards the new Parliament building met with an arbitrary detention, orchestrated by the Delhi police.
Amid staunch protests, wrestlers Sakshi Malik and others had met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and held a late-night meeting on Saturday - June 3. While they expressed their concerns and demands to the Home Minister to arrest the BJP MP, Amit Shah assured them that the law will take its course. However, there was no decision from the centre over their demand of apprehending Brij Bhushan Singh.
In the midst of these developments, it was reported on Monday - June 5 that Sakshi Malik has withdrawn from the protests, after meeting Amit Shah, and that she will be resume her duties as OSD in the Indian Railways. It was also reported that another protesting wrestler Bajrang Punia had also withdrawn from the protests to take up his role in the Indian Railways. While such reports had twisted the tale, it appeared that it will weaken the protests from the wrestling champions.
However, when the news of Sakshi Malik's exit from the protests were making national headlines, Sakshi Malik broke the silence and announced that there is no taking back of the protests and that she will continue to protest along with carrying out her duties in Indian Railways. Sakshi Malik had strongly denied such reports and asserted that the news about her withdrawing from protests is wrong.
Taking to Twitter, she wrote in Hindi, "This news is completely wrong. In the fight for justice, none of us has backed down, nor will we. Along with Satyagraha, I am fulfilling my responsibility in Railways. Our fight continues till justice is served. Please don't spread any wrong news." Reacting to the news, wrestler and husband of Sakshi Malik, Satyawart Kadian said, "It's fake news, we have not stepped back from protest. Our protest will continue."
"Neither we have compromised, nor we will step back. All this is fake, we will not take back this protest. We will stay united and keep protesting for justice. Fake news is being spread to weaken us... The entire nation is against Delhi Police", Kadiana added. Along with Sakshi Malik, fellow wrestler Bajrang Punia has also asserted that the protest will continue till justice is served.
Taking to Twitter, Punia wrote, "The news of withdrawing the movement is just a rumour. These news are being spread to harm us. We have neither retreated nor have we have withdrawn the movement. The news of women wrestlers raising FIR is also false. The fight will continue till justice is served."
Speaking to ANI, Sakshi Malik said, "We met Union Home Minister Amit Shah, it was a normal conversation, we have only one demand and that is to arrest him (Brij Bhushan Singh). I have not stepped back from the protest. I have resumed my work as OSD in Railways. I want to clarify that we will keep protesting until we get justice. We will not step back. She (minor girl) has not taken back any FIR, all this is fake."