Khap leaders issue ultimatum: Arrest WFI ex-chief or we will march to Delhi Representatives of over 170 khaps from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, and Delhi came together in a mahapanchayat held in Kurukshetra, Haryana, to voice their demands for the arrest of former Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. The leaders accused Singh of intimidation and sexual harassment, calling for immediate action against him. They also demanded the dropping of all charges against the protesting wrestlers who have been advocating for justice. In an assertive move, the khap leaders threatened to march to the capital city of Delhi if their demands were not met by June 9
The mahapanchayat, which lasted for approximately five-and-a-half hours, served as a platform for the khaps to express their concerns and mobilize support for their cause. One of the key issues raised was the alleged misconduct and harassment by Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who had served as the chief of the Wrestling Federation of India for over a decade. The khap leaders emphasized that they would not settle for anything less than the arrest of Singh, holding the central government accountable for taking swift action in this matter. To further pressurize the authorities, they announced their intention to converge at Jantar Mantar in Delhi on June 9 and conduct panchayats (public assemblies) across the country.
Khap Leaders Demand Arrest of WFI Ex-Chief: Threaten March to Delhi for Justice
The backdrop for these developments stemmed from a recent incident where the protesting wrestlers were forcibly removed from their sit-in demonstration at Jantar Mantar by Delhi Police. A scuffle broke out between the wrestlers and security personnel as they attempted to march towards the newly inaugurated Parliament building. Subsequently, the wrestlers were charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act. The khaps, however, demanded the withdrawal of these charges and expressed solidarity with the wrestlers’ cause.
Rakesh Tikait, spokesperson of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), played a prominent role in articulating the demands of the khap leaders. He stressed the urgency of the situation and conveyed that the wrestlers’ cases should be dropped, while emphasizing the need for the immediate arrest of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. Tikait warned that if the government failed to meet these demands, the khap leaders would take their protest to Jantar Mantar and continue organizing similar gatherings across the nation.
This mahapanchayat followed a previous meeting held in Muzaffarnagar, where the khaps decided to send a delegation to President Droupadi Murmu to apprise her of the wrestlers’ demands. Notably, the wrestlers themselves were not present at these two gatherings.
Khap Leaders Unite in Demanding Arrest of Former WFI Chief: Vow to March to Delhi for Justice
Rakesh Tikait’s statement came shortly after his brother, Naresh Tikait, who heads the BKU, successfully persuaded prominent wrestlers such as Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, and Vinesh Phogat to hold off on immersing their Olympic medals in the Ganga River. These athletes, who collectively possess 45 senior international medals, were considering this symbolic gesture to draw attention to their grievances.
The wrestlers have accused Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh of sexual harassment, including instances involving underage athletes. Singh, a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and former MP from Kaiserganj, has vehemently denied these allegations and retaliated against the wrestlers. His removal from the Wrestling Federation of India and the filing of two FIRs against him have not satisfied the wrestlers, who demand his immediate arrest.
Chaudhary Surender Solanki, the head of Palam 360 khap in Delhi, who played a significant role in the mahapanchayat, expressed support for the wrestlers’ cause and advocated for the dropping of all charges against them. He emphasized that it is their democratic right to protest.
During the mahapanchayat, a minor argument erupted when some members felt marginalized and claimed they were being denied the opportunity to voice their opinions on the wrestlers’ protest. Rakesh Tikait alleged that an attempt had been made to derail the talks but ultimately failed.
As the khap leaders intensify their demands, the pressure mounts on the authorities to take decisive action against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and address the concerns of the protesting wrestlers. The looming threat of a march to Delhi serves as a testament to the determination of the khap leaders to ensure justice and accountability in the wrestling community.
The demands put forth by the representatives of over 170 khaps highlight the gravity of the allegations against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and the urgency for his arrest. The unity displayed by the khaps from various states reflects a shared concern for justice and accountability within the wrestling community. Their call for dropping charges against the protesting wrestlers signifies the solidarity among the khaps in supporting those who have spoken out against misconduct.
The mahapanchayat served as a platform for the khaps to voice their grievances and strategize their course of action. It also became a space for them to mobilize support and garner attention for their cause. By threatening to march to the capital city of Delhi, the khap leaders aim to apply pressure on the authorities and ensure that their demands are not overlooked or dismissed.