NEW DELHI (AFP): Indian police dragged away and detained on Sunday two Olympic wrestlers and dozens of others as they tried to march to parliament demanding the arrest of the sport’s federation chief over allegations of sexual harassment and intimidation.
In an escalation of the month-old standoff, police also cleared the site in central New Delhi where the wrestlers have been camped out while calling for the arrest of Brij Bhushan Singh, an AFP journalist at the scene said.
The wrestlers attempted to march to India’s new parliament on Sunday just as it was being inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but they were halted by some of the hundreds of police on duty for the event.
Among those detained by police and hauled away into buses were Olympic bronze medallists Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia.
One video posted on social media by Malik showed police dragging away screaming protesters.
“The goon who sexually exploits, Brij Bhushan, is sitting in Parliament and we are being dragged on the road. Sad day for Indian sports,” Malik tweeted.
Broadcaster NDTV quoted a senior police official who said “all protesters were detained and forcefully boarded in buses” because they had “violated law and order”.
Police also removed tents and other items from the site where the protesters have been camped out, the AFP journalist said.
Opposition politicians condemned the police actions.
“Strongly condemn the way Delhi Police manhandled Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat and other wrestlers. It’s shameful our champions are treated in this manner,” opposition politician Mamata Banerjee tweeted, calling for their release.
Security in the nation’s capital was tightened ahead of the inauguration of the new parliament building by Modi.
Personnel also stood guard on the borders of New Delhi after a group of farmers attempted to enter the city to support the protesting wrestlers.
Earlier this month, dozens of farmers broke down police barricades in the city to join the protest.
Wrestling federation chief Singh, who is from Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, has denied the accusations.