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Arrest of wrestlers: State-initiated misuse of cops' power ‘to maintain law and order’

Statement by the Indian Christian Women's Movement (ICWM): No more silence in the face of government sanctioned police brutality against protesting women wrestlers in the national capital

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The members of the Indian Christian Women’s Movement strongly condemn the undemocratic and oppressive action of the Delhi police as per the dictates of the central government. The attempt to foil the Mahila Maha Panchayat programme in support of the women wrestlers, which was scheduled to be held in front of the new Sansad Bhawan, is brutal and criminal.
We condemn:
• The state-initiated misuse of the powers of the police ‘to maintain law and order’ in the national capital, in order to silence citizens' voices.
• The police violence and arrest of the women wrestlers and activists outside parliament while Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the accused in cases of sexual harassment spanning a decade, was attending the inauguration of the new parliament building presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
• The failure of the police to make necessary arrests and conduct investigations even when FIRs have been filed, including one under POCSO.
• The lack of respect for national and international, award-winning women wrestlers, displayed by the police and other personnel entrusted by the people of the country to maintain law and order.
• The silence of women MPs, in particular that of Ms Smriti Irani, Minister For Women And Child Development, in the face of such atrocities committed against women…
The Indian Parliament is not a building. It is the voice of the People of India. The inauguration of the new parliament building while the voices of the women wrestlers fighting for justice, were being silenced, is therefore a travesty of what Parliament stands for.
We demand:
• The immediate arrest of BJP MP and Wrestling Federation of India chief, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh over sexual harassment allegations.
• The immediate release of the women wrestlers and activists who were arrested while protesting the lack of action against the federation chief.
• That the women members of parliament who have remained silent on the women wrestlers fight for justice, publicly acknowledge their failure to fulfil the responsibilities of their elected office.
• An inquiry into the physical and verbal violence unleashed by the police on the women wrestlers and activists, and appropriate action be taken against those responsible for the crimes committed.
By speaking up and demanding justice, National wrestling stars, Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia have shown the world how to stand up against oppressive powers. By refusing to be beaten down by State machinery gone foul, they stand as beacons of hope when the constitutional right to dissent and to protest injustice, is trampled upon. We stand in solidarity with them and all those who were detained for supporting their fight for justice.
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On behalf of all members of ICWM: ICWM National Team:
Convenor: Raynah Marise, Secretary: Neerja Prasad, Treasurer Santha George
Team Members: Anita Cheria, Merlyn Dsa, Dr Rini Ralte, Dr Aruna Gnanadason

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