Sakshi Malik, right, and Vinesh Phogat, second left, light candles as they stand on a police barricade after addressing their supporters | AP
New Delhi: The protesting wrestlers on Tuesday decided that the scheduled mahapanchayat outside the new Parliament building on May 28 will be held under the leadership of women and youth, and any big decision on the future course of action will henceforth be taken by them.
On Tuesday, thousands of supporters of the wrestlers marched from Jantar Mantar to India Gate under extremely heavy security and raised slogans demanding the arrest of former Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
The protesting grapplers, including Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik and Asian Games gold medallist Vinesh Phogat, have been demanding Brij Bhushan's arrest alleging that he has sexually harassed several women wrestlers, including a minor.
The supporters braved extreme heat and the late-evening dust storm as they marched towards India Gate peacefully in unprecedented numbers, which could have led to a stampede but fortunately no untoward incident occurred.
Waving hundreds of tricolours, the supporters, who had arrived from bordering states, echoed the same sentiments as the aggrieved wrestlers and demanded the strictest of punishments for Brij Bhushan.
Vinesh, Bajrang and Sakshi, in order to ensure their voice reached maximum number of supporters, climbed on to a police barricade at India Gate to address them even as hundreds of candles were lit up and supporters squatted at the venue holding placards and shouting slogans against Brij Bhushan.
"For the last one month, we have been protesting (for government to take action against Brij Bhushan) and it is a matter of shame that nothing has happened so far. Today, we took out a candle march at India Gate and we are getting reports that several organisations around the country that they too took out candle marches in their cities and districts.
"We are also getting news that hundreds of our supporters were stopped from entering the national capital," said Vinesh.
Vinesh, buoyed by the support of the thousands of people who assembled at India Gate, said she was hopeful of getting justice soon.
"I am very hopeful that soon we'll get justice," she said.
She expressed her gratitude to the supporters for the "peaceful" match.
"We are happy that we took out the procession in a peaceful manner despite there being thousands of supporters from several organisations across the country.
"The khaps have taken a decision that on May 28, a mahapanchayat will be held under the leadership of women and youth near the new Parliament building. We've taken the decision because this is a fight for the integrity and respect of the womenfolk," said Bajrang.
"The khap panchayats will keep lending their support but this protest will be led by our women folk. They will chalk out the future strategy (of the agitation) and the khaps will provide the support in the background," he said.
"Any big decision on the agitation will only be taken after May 28," he added. PTI