Report by a correspondent of Mazdoor Ekta Committee
“The democracy, that our rulers boast about, whose symbol — the new parliament building — is being inaugurated at this moment, is a democracy for the big capitalists. Those sitting in parliament are blatantly serving the interests of the big capitalists, while brutally crushing the voice of our women and all our people for justice …” said an activist of Purogami Mahila Sangathan, at a mass protest action by several organisations on 28 May 2023, in support the wrestlers’ struggle.
As the new Parliament building was being inaugurated in the capital on May 28, the Delhi police brutally cracked down on the wrestlers who have been protesting for more than a month now, at New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar demanding action against the WFI chief for sexual harassment of the women wrestlers.
Women’s organisations from Delhi and other parts of the country, kisan organisations from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, workers’ organisations as well as youth organisations had planned to gather at a ‘Mahila Sammaan Mahapanchayat’, in front of the new Parliament building, on May 28. The ‘Mahila Sammaan Mahapanchayat’ had been organized to mobilise support for the wrestlers’ struggle and to highlight the growing violence on women and the all-sided attacks on the rights of workers, kisans, women and youth.
The borders of Delhi were sealed and heavily barricaded, amidst massive deployment of security forces, from the midnight of May 27. Kisan organisations, workers’ and women’s organisations coming from outside Delhi to join the program were prevented from entering the capital.
A massive security cordon was placed all around Jantar Mantar. All roads leading to the wrestlers’ protest site had barricades with a huge presence of police and Rapid Action Force (RAF), right from the early morning of May 28. No one was allowed to go towards Jantar Mantar. In an attempt by the authorities to disrupt the day’s program, leading activists of women’s organisations of Delhi were picked up as they were coming to the protest site in the morning, forcibly pushed into police vans, taken to different police stations of Delhi and detained till the end of the day.
Journalists and media personnel were prevented from reaching Jantar Mantar, and even physically attacked at some barricades.
Just as the protesting wrestlers began their march towards the venue of the ‘Mahila Sammaan Mahapanchayat’, the police brutally attacked them, shoved them on to the ground and beat them up. The wrestlers and their supporters at the protest site were then pushed into police vans and taken to police stations at different locations in the remote corners of the city, where they were detained for the whole day. The aim was clearly to isolate them, intimidate them, prevent them from drawing support and strength from each other and break their spirit.
Immediately after this, the police broke up the tents and temporary structures at the protest site, that had been put up to shelter the wrestlers and their supporters. The belongings of the wrestlers were removed. All signs of the wrestlers’ protest, that had daily drawn crowds of supporters from all over the country, were ruthlessly torn down.
As news of the attack on the wrestlers, their detention and the destruction of the protest site spread, the activists of the organisations that had gathered at the barricades got together and organized protest actions to express their anger.
Activists of Purogami Mahila Sangathan, Pragatisheel Mahila Sangathan, NFIW, Mazdoor Ekta Committee, ANHAD, various kisan and youth activists organized a protest rally at the barricades at Janpath Metro Station, just a stone’s throw away from Jantar Mantar and the new Parliament building that was being inaugurated. Hundreds of people participated in the protest rally.
Fueled by the cruel contempt of the rulers for the concerns of the people, the protestors militantly raised slogans – “Unite in Support of the Women Wrestlers’ Struggle for Justice!”, “Down with Violence on Women!”, “Down with the attack by Delhi Police on the struggling Women Wrestlers!”, “Stop sexual harassment of women at the workplace!”, “Down with the attacks on our livelihood and rights!”, and so on. They carried banners and placards, with these and many other slogans. They sang songs of resistance. The protest carried on for more than two hours. There were reports of protestors being harassed and detained by the police even after the protest.
Kisan organisations gathered at the borders of Delhi, where they had been stopped, and held protest rallies in support of the wrestlers’ demands. They raised slogans against all forms of sexual harassment of women and demanded justice for the women. They denounced the attacks by the rulers on all sections of the people and called for a united resistance struggle to defeat these attacks. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) issued a press release, calling upon “all democratic sections to rise up in protest”. It denounced the attacks on and arrests of several kisan activists coming to support the wrestlers. It warned that the struggle will be “intensified and carried on till the sexual harassers are arrested and punished”.
The vicious attack by the Indian state on the protesting wrestlers and their supporters once again shows the utter contempt of the ruling capitalist class, headed by the big monopoly houses, for the masses of people. It shows that the present rulers of our country are unfit to rule. It calls for the urgent need to replace this tyrannical rule of the capitalists with the rule of the working class in alliance with the kisans and all the oppressed.