- The wrestlers put out five demands at their meeting with Union sports minister Anurag Thakur, according to ndtv.com
- Wrestlers demand that henceforth a woman should head the Wrestling Federation of India
- Wrestlers make it clear that Brij Bhushan Singh or his family members should not be a part of the WFI
- Wrestlers call for free and fair elections to the Wrestling Federation of India
- Wrestlers want a police case filed against them over their protest last month (on the day the new Parliament building was inaugurated) be scrapped
- Wrestlers reiterate their demand for the arrest of Brij Bhushan Singh
A crucial meeting between the top wrestlers, led by Olympic medallist Bajrang Punia, and Sports Minister Anurag Thakur began at his residence on Wednesday morning as the government continued its effort to strike a deal with the protesting grapplers, who are demanding arrest of WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
The meeting was called by Thakur to break the deadlock as the wrestlers have been adamant that they will continue their agitation till Singh, who they have accused of sexual harassment, is arrested, reports PTI.
Vinesh Phogat, a prominent face of the protest, is not attending the meeting as she is in her village Balali in Haryana to attend a pre-scheduled 'panchayat'.
Punia, Rio Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik and her wrestler husband Satyawart Kadiyan, arrived at the minister's house for the meeting.
Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait, who has been supporting the wrestlers in their protest, is not part of the meeting.
The wrestlers had resumed their protest against Singh and the national federation on April 23 at Jantar Mantar.
They were removed from the protest site on May 28 when the police detained them for violation of law and order after they began their march to the new Parliament building without permission.
It is the second round of meeting between the government and protesting wrestlers in a space of five days. The wrestlers had met Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday night and apprised him of their demands.
While the government is willing to accept most of their demands, the arrest of Singh, who is also a BJP MP, remains the bone of contention.
The wrestlers had also resumed their duties with the Northern Railways, last week. Sakshi Malik and Punia are attached with Railways as OSD.
"The wrestlers look positive in their approach. We are hoping for a resolution today. The idea is that the sport should not suffer," said a sports ministry official ahead of the meeting.
Union sports minister Anurag Thakur had invited protesting wrestlers for talks, the overture coming a day after he said that a fair investigation would be conducted into their allegations of sexual harassment against Wrestling Federation of India chief and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
"The government is willing to have a discussion with the wrestlers on their issues. I have once again invited the wrestlers for the same," Thakur tweeted on Wednesday at 12.47 am.
Thakur, who was in Gwalior on Tuesday for a convocation of the Laxmibai National Institute of Physical Education, had assured the gathering that a fair investigation would be conducted into the wrestlers' allegations, according to PTI.
Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh has, however, denied all the allegations against him.
The minister said that sports and sportspersons were a priority for the government. "The government has already formed a committee (to probe the allegations against Singh). The police are investigating the matter by registering an FIR. A charge sheet will also be filed and fair investigation will be done," the Union minister said.
Khap meet at Phogats' village
On Wednesday, top wrestlers Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat are scheduled to attend a khap mahapanchayat in Haryana called “in the light of the cruelty of the Modi government towards women wrestlers”.
The meeting will be held in Balali, the home village of Vinesh and the other Phogat sisters, made famous by the film Dangal.
Sources said the mahapanchayat, which will be led by farmer leaders, will chalk out the future course of the protest against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
Brij Bhushan's aides questioned
Delhi Police has recorded statements of associates of WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and those working at his residence in Uttar Pradesh's Gonda as part of the investigation into sexual harassment allegations against him.
Officials said on Tuesday that said the girl whose statement was the basis of a case being registered against Singh under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act had recorded a fresh statement under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) section 164.
The officials said police are collecting evidence in connection with the case filed against the BJP MP, and will submit a report in court accordingly.
Driver quizzed too
"A team of Delhi Police visited Gonda and recorded statements of Singh's associates and those working at his house, including his driver. This is being done as part of further investigation to collect evidence and corroborate versions of the witnesses with that of Singh and the complainants in the case," an official said, but refused to divulge details on account of the sensitive nature of the case.
Over 125 people, including family members and associates from both sides, have been interrogated and their statements were recorded. Singh has been questioned twice, sources said.
Technical, digital and manual evidence have been collected. As soon as the investigation is concluded, a charge sheet will be filed in court, they added.
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