In a stunning turn of events, the wrestlers demanding the arrest of former Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh have resumed negotiations with the government, which has resulted in a temporary de-escalation of the agitation.
According to sources close to them, agitating wrestlers Bajrang Punia and Sakshee Mallikh, along with a group of coaches and others, had a two-hour meeting with Union home minister Amit Shah. The office of the home minister refused to confirm the sudden meeting, which has provoked indignation from the khaps who had taken up the cudgels for the agitating grapplers and had appeared to be preparing for a prolonged confrontation.
The wrestlers' camp said that Shah did not agree to their principal demand for the immediate arrest of Singh, who is a BJP MP, for allegedly sexually harassing a minor wrestler. However, they did not appear to be dissatisfied with the HM's alleged fulfilment of their other demands, which included the appointment of a separate president for women wrestlers, the withdrawal of FIRs against the protesting wrestlers for disobeying prohibitory orders on May 28, and the prohibition against Brij Bhushan's family and relatives running in the upcoming wrestling federation elections.
The discussions happened shortly after Punia, Mallikh, and Vinesh Phogat resumed their roles as rail ministry employees, which was significant and went against their confrontational demeanour. But while there were signs of thaw, the two sides remained stuck on the issue of wrestlers' demand for Singh's arrest.
Shah, according to wrestlers, agreed to the withdrawal of FIRs against the wrestlers and their supporters who were detained while trying to march towards the new Parliament building on May 28. He also agreed that no family member or relative of Singh would contest the upcoming federation elections, and that a woman official would be appointed in the new federation to look after the affairs of women's wrestling.