New Delhi— In a stark irony, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the new Parliament building and extolled India as the 'mother of democracy', a troubling incident unfolded few miles away. Policemen, wielding their power, resorted to the brutal manhandling of wrestlers and protesters who were marching towards the new building to voice their grievances.
Chaos ensued at Jantar Mantar in Delhi as the police detained prominent wrestlers, including Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, and Sakshi Malik, as they tried to march towards the new Parliament. Wrestlers and supporters who joined the protests were also detained.
In scenes that sparked widespread outrage, medal-winning Olympians and Commonwealth Games champions were seen being shoved, pushed, and dragged into buses.
Subsequently, the police cleared the Jantar Mantar protest site, which had been occupied by the wrestlers since they resumed their protest against BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh on April 23.
Leaders of the opposition, who abstained from the inauguration of the legislature, strongly condemned the crackdown.
For over a month, the wrestlers had been camped out at Jantar Mantar in opposition to BJP MP and Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
Arvind Kejriwal, the chief minister of Delhi, criticized the police action and said, "Such behavior towards our athletes is highly wrong and condemnable."
The wrestlers had organized a "Mahila Samman Mahapanchayat" (Grand Assembly for Women's Honor) along with notable Khap panchayats from several states at the new Parliament House building, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated on Sunday.
There was a greater deployment of security officers and significant barricading along Delhi's borders.
Additionally, farmers' representatives in Haryana were detained along with the wrestlers and other demonstrators.
In a tweet in Hindi, Bajrang Punia asked, "Does any administration treat national heroes in this manner? What wrong have we done?"
In anticipation of the "Mahila Samman Mahapanchayat," security was increased at Delhi's borders, especially at Ghazipur, Tikri, Singhu, and Ghaziabad, starting in the morning.
Farmers who crossed the border into Ghazipur were not allowed to enter the capital to join the panchayat.
A prominent farmer leader declared, "Our demonstration will conclude today at 3 pm. However, the protest will continue until justice is served for our daughters and Brij Bhushan is arrested."
The Delhi Police requested permission to convert an MCD School in Kanjhawala into a "temporary jail," but Mayor Shelly Oberoi refused. The police had sought permission for the same, considering the "Mahila Samman Mahapanchayat" of the wrestlers and their supporters.
Last night, MCD officials claimed that they had given the police authorization to use the property as a "temporary jail."
In Haryana, on Sunday, several farmer leaders were detained ahead of the maha panchayat in Delhi. Gurnam Singh Chaduni, the state leader of the BKU, was among those detained and was taken into custody at 4:45 in the morning. He was later released after farmers staged a dharna (sit-in protest) in front of a Kurukshetra police station.
Activists from the Krantikari Kisan Union were stopped at the Haryana border while they were on their way to Delhi, and a group of women moving to Delhi was detained in Hisar. Azad Singh Palwa, a prominent farmer, was also detained in the Jind district.
Rakesh Bains, the head of the Haryana BKU, was detained by the police on Saturday night at his residence. He was later released but remained under house arrest.