Indian farmers back wrestlers’ agitation against sexual abuse, warn of massive protests

New Delhi, Jun 2 (EFE).- Indian farmers’ groups have given a one-week deadline to the government to arrest Wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh over sexual abuse allegations leveled by several wrestlers, warning of massive protests if the demand was not met.

“We are giving the government time till June 9 (…). After that, demonstrations and panchayats (large gatherings) will be held across the country in support of these daughters (women wrestlers),” farmers’ leader Rakesh Tikait said in Delhi after a meeting.

The meeting was held a day after the farmers’ groups announced their complete support to the Indian elite athletes in their protest against Singh, who has been accused of sexually abusing several wrestlers as well as protecting other abusers.

The protesters have alleged that no action was taken by the federation led by Singh against coaches accused of sexual abuse, despite receiving complaints.

Meanwhile, the WFI president has continued to claim innocence and called the allegations a political conspiracy, consistently refusing to resign from office.

As part of the farmers’ support to the sportspersons, Tikait announced on Thursday that a representative of their unions would meet the president of India and authorities to discuss the athletes’ complaints.

The wrestlers first began their campaign against Singh in January and intensified protests in April as an enquiry and judicial processes against the accused failed to produce much progress.

Tikait was one of the most visible faces of the Indian farmers’ movement that continued for over an year between November 2020-2021 and forced the Indian government to revoke agrarian reforms that favored the big corporates according to the protesters.

Farmers said that they would join the protest at Jantar Mantar – the Indian capital’s designated protest site – with the athletes if action was not taken against Singh.

Last week, the police had blocked the athletes from marching towards the Indian parliament by arresting them, before withdrawing their permission to protest at the same site.

The use of force against the wrestlers was condemned by the International Olympic Committee and other international bodies. EFE


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