Haridwar: Disappointed by the lack of efforts shown by the government, the unprecedented behaviour of the Delhi Police and the removal from their Jantar Mantar protest site on May 28, the wrestlers protesting for around 45 days decided to immerse their hard-earned medals and sit on a hunger strike “until death” at the India Gate. Sakshi Malik said, “These medals are our life and soul. We are going to immerse them in the Ganges because she is Maa Ganga. After that, there is no point in living, so we will sit on a hunger strike until death at India Gate”. She slammed both President and Prime Minister for not hearing their grievances and turning a blind eye to their miseries.
A huge crowd gathered at Har ki Poudi in Haridwar, the wrestlers stood for about 20 minutes in silence and sat at the banks of the River Ganga. Several khap and political leaders urged them not to take such an extreme step; senior farmer leaders Sham Singh Malik and Naresh Tikait sought five days’ time from the grapplers to resolve the issue. Protesting wrestler Jitender Kinha said,”The khap leaders put their turbans before us and said ‘do not lose hope’. Keep the dignity of the turban and return. So we decided to wait”.
Post this incident, a source from the Sports Ministry said,” The medal that the wrestlers have won do not belong to them alone but to the country, because they played under the Indian flag and their medals have been won with the efforts of not just the wrestlers’ hard work but also the hard work of multiple people like their coaches, support staff”. He added that crores of taxpayers’ money had gone into their training. “More than 150 crores have been spent in the last 5 years in wrestling just so that the wrestlers can get the best training, coaching and infrastructure facilities. They have been sent for foreign training, trained at national camps and competed internationally to hone their skills and win medals in the Olympics, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games. This money belongs to taxpayers.”