Olympic medallist boxer and Congress leader Vijender Singh on Wednesday said the entire wrestlers’ protest episode was reminiscent of the 1960 incident when legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, then Cassius Clay, threw his Olympic gold medal into the Ohio river to protest racial segregation in the US
Congress leader and boxer Vijender Singh addresses during a press conference at AICC HQ in New Delhi on Wednesday. ANI Photo
Olympic medallist boxer and Congress leader Vijender Singh on Wednesday said the entire wrestlers’ protest episode was reminiscent of the 1960 incident when legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, then Cassius Clay, threw his Olympic gold medal into the Ohio river to protest racial segregation in the US.
The way people rallied behind Ali, he said, they must do so now in support of the daughters of the country who are fighting for justice.
Singh was addressing a press conference organized by the party at its headquarters in New Delhi.
His comments came a day the protesting wrestlers went to Haridwar on the banks of the Ganga, threatening to immerse their medals in the river. However, they were stopped by farmer leaders, who sought five days to address their grievances.
Olympic medallists Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia and Asian Games gold medallist Vinesh Phogat had gone to Har ki Pauri to protest the inaction against Wrestling Federation of India chief and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh who is accused of sexually harassing women female grapplers.
Hitting out at the Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not making an appeal to the protesting wrestlers to not immerse their medals in the Ganga, Congress MP Deepender Hooda said that the BJP's slogan of 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao' now means 'Beti BJP ke netaon se bachao (save daughters from BJP leaders)'.
Addressing a press conference at the AICC headquarters, Congress MP Deepender Hooda said, "These medals are their life, they represent their struggle, their families' sacrifices and the nation's pride. What kind of a cruel government is this? We want to ask the prime minister and government as to why they did not even urge the wrestlers not to throw their medals."
"The prime minister and ministers, who used to queue up to get photographs with these sportspersons when they won medals, did not even issue an appeal. It sent a message that they are not only anti-sportspersons but also anti-medals," the Congress leader from Haryana said.
"You talk of Uniform Civil Code, will that not be applicable to BJP leaders. Is there a separate law for them," Hooda asked.
He also accused the BJP of bringing in caste, religion and regionalism in an issue that is about justice for daughters.
"If a girl seeks justice, then getting her justice is raj dharma... When Parliament was being inaugurated, the manner in which women were dragged around, everyone saw," the Congress leader said.
"Why so much hate for sportspersons? The country is pained that the prime minister did not even ask the wrestlers to not throw their medals in the Ganga," he said.
The Congress appeals to the protesting wrestlers not to throw their medals in the Ganga as they are hard-earned and that they rethink their decision to go on a hunger strike, Hooda said.
He said the Congress is firmly behind the wrestlers in their quest for justice.
Asked whether he would be interested in contesting the WFI polls, the Rajya Sabha MP said he has no interest in the politics of the wrestling body and is focused on bringing about change in Haryana.
The wrestlers, who had been protesting at Jantar Mantar since April 23 seeking the arrest of Singh, were removed from the site by the police on Sunday after they tried to march to the new Parliament building during its inauguration. They were detained before being released later.
The Delhi Police has filed two FIRs against the WFI president. While the first FIR relates to allegations by the minor wrestler and has been registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, the second is related to outraging modesty. (With inputs from PTI)