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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 18, 19, April 29 & May 6, 2023 (Double issue)

Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, Apr 29 & May 6, 2023

Saturday 29 April 2023


Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, April 29, & May 6 2023

Brazen Abuse of Powers to Protect Those on the Right Side of the Fence

There is a recurring cycle of immunity and protection enjoyed by people seen to be on the right side of the ruling party & Government circles. So, those politico-religious figures who delivered hateful sermons and attempted to instigate violence in the past few years, have not been or hardly been moved against, despite repeated calls from civil society. On April 28, 2023, the Supreme Court of India delivered a ruling on Hate Speech widening the scope of its 2022 order – that had directed the Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand Police to take suo motu action in hate speech cases. Now the Supreme Court has directed all states and union territories to register cases involving hate speech even if no complaint is made. The court has warned that delays in filing cases will be treated as contempt of court. Let us hope the Police will follow the directions of the court. For the past whole week, India’s top award-winning wrestlers who had earlier raised complaints of sexual harassment against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president and BJP member of Parliament Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh have had to return to the protest venue in New Delhi demanding action by the Government. Following the earlier protest (of Jan 2023) by Wrestlers, Sports Minister Anurag Thakur formed a committee to look into the allegations against the WFI chief. The six-member committee took three months to produce its report which was submitted to the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports on April 5. But the findings of the committee have not been made public and the complaining athletes are demanding its release and also the filing of a police complaint. The Wrestlers had waited for three months for government action and have been compelled to again go for a sit-in protest at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar. It is shocking that the police which is under direct charge of the Home Ministry found ways to be evasive and not register an FIR against the WFI president. The protesting wrestlers had to approach the Supreme Court of India seeking its intervention to get the police to move. Following directions from the Supreme Court the Delhi police on April 28, did finally register two FIRS (one under the POCSO Act and the other for sexual harassment of 6 female wrestlers) against a BJP Member of Parliament and Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. But, the protesters allege that Delhi Police has not provided them with a copy of the FIRs filed against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. The protest by wrestlers is fast acquiring national attention and many political parties and also prominent sportspersons have lent support to this protest. The wrestler’s protest site at Jantar Mantar has seen its electricity and water supply cut off, and the police at the site visibly are under pressure to make the protest conditions difficult [1]. The protestors have appealed to the Prime Minister for justice and but there are little signs of any response. Wider public support for the wrestlers is the need of the hour. Hate speech, misogyny, and sexual assaults have to be fought against every day, too many people are shielded by men in power [2].

April 29, 2023 — HK

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