New Delhi: The country's top wrestlers, who were detained by Delhi Police and removed from their Jantar Mantar protest site, on Tuesday said they will immerse their hard-earned medals in river Ganges and sit on a hunger strike "until death" at the India Gate.
Sakshi Malik, a bronze medallist at the 2016 Rio Olympics, said in a statement on her Twitter handle that the wrestlers will go to Haridwar on Tuesday to immerse the medals in the holy river at 6 pm.
"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 of living, so we will sit on a hunger strike until death at India Gate," she said in the statement written in Hindi. The same statement was also shared by her compatriot Vinesh Phogat.
Tuesday happens to be Ganga Dussera in Haridwar and possibly a day when lot of people will be there to offer prayers.
"We have won these medals with the same purity as the holy Ganga. These medals are holy for the entire country and there can't be a better place to keep them than in the holy Ganga rather than it acting as a mask for the unholy system which is siding with the wrongdoer," Sakshi said.
"India Gate is the place of those martyrs who sacrificed themselves for the country. We are not as holy as them but our emotions while playing at the international level are similar to those soldiers."
Sakshi said as the "system kept trying to scare the victims and stop the protest" instead of "catching the harasser", the wrestlers felt the medals have no value and wanted to return them.
She wished president Draupadi Murmu and PM Narendra Modi should have addressed this issue.
"We don't want these medals now because by making us wear them this shiny system is using it as a mask for its own publicity while exploiting us. If we speak against this exploitation it prepares to send us to jail."
On Sunday, Delhi police detained Malik along with World Championships bronze winner Vinesh Phogat and another Olympic medallist Bajrang Punia, and later filed FIRs against the wrestlers for violation of law and order.
Unprecedented scenes of police dragging the Olympic and world championships medal-winning players were witnessed when the wrestlers and their supporters breached the security cordon ahead of their march towards the new Parliament building for the planned women's 'Mahapanchayat'.
The wrestlers did not have permission to move towards the new Parliament building, hours after it was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and when they were stopped by police, an ugly scuffle broke out.
The protesting wrestlers and their supporters were taken to different locations in the national capital before they were released. The police officers later cleared the protest site by removing the cots, mattresses, coolers, fans and the tarpaulin ceiling along with other belongings of the grapplers.
Sakshi said the women wrestlers felt there's nothing left for them in this country as the "system has treated them cheaply".
"We're reminded of the moment when we won Olympic and World Championships medals. Now we feel why we won them, did we win them so that the system behaves so cheaply with us? They dragged us and then made us criminals.
"The way police behaved with us, how they arrested us with cruelty. We were doing our peaceful protest. Our protest site was also destroyed and snatched from us by the police. And the next day they lodged an FIR against us.
"Have the women wrestlers committed a crime by asking for justice after being sexually harassed? Police and system are behaving like we are criminals, whereas the actual harasser is making fun of us. They are making women wrestlers uncomfortable and laughing at them."