Police in Delhi were involved in scuffles with Indian Olympic wrestlers at a #MeToo protest in the Indian capital city.
The wrestlers allege they were assaulted and abused by police on Wednesday night when they tried to bring in folding beds to their sit-in protest, where they are demonstrating against the president of the wrestling federation after he was accused of sexual assault.
They have been camping in the open for the last 12 days and heavy rain had flooded their protest site.
Female wrestlers alleged there were no female officers and that they were assaulted by policemen, including one who was drunk.
Delhi Police has denied the allegations, saying no force was used and five police personnel were injured in the scuffle.
Pranav Tayal, Delhi Deputy Commissioner of Police, said: "A sufficient number of women officers were on duty during the night. On medical examination, no police personnel was found to be drunk.
"Five police personnel sustained injuries during the scuffle.
"No force was used by the police against the protesters.
"Regarding an injury to one protester, he left the hospital against medical advice and has not given a statement to the police yet."
Olympic wrestlers say they have been made to ‘suffer’
Rio Olympic Bronze medallist Sakshi Malik was caught up in the struggle with police and was seen breaking down.
A young wrestler named Dushyant Phogat was bleeding from the head, while another was rushed to the hospital.
Vinesh Phogat, a multiple world champion and the first Indian woman wrestler to win a gold in Commonwealth and Asian Games said: "The way they have made us suffer, I would not want an athlete to win a medal for the country."
Tokyo Olympic medallist Bajrang Punia said: "If this is how the wrestlers will be treated, what will we do with the medals? Rather we will live a normal life and return all the medals and awards to the government.
"You have already insulted us enough, there is nothing left."
The wrestlers appealed for people to join them in their plight.
Wrestling official accused of sexual harassment
It is the second time in three months they have staged protests against Wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, a powerful politician representing the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.
Mr Singh has been accused of sexually abusing and harassing six women and one girl.
He denies the allegations.
The demonstrators withdrew their earlier protest when the government set up a special committee to look into the accusations, but they say nothing has happened.
It was only when the protesters petitioned the Supreme Court of India that Delhi Police filed two cases against Mr Singh, including under the stringent Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
‘It’s a disgrace’
So far Mr Singh has not been questioned or arrested by the police.
Mr Singh said: "They first asked for my resignation as the federation chief. I said that would mean accepting the charges against me.
"Resignation is no big deal, but I won’t do it as a criminal. I am not a criminal."
The wrestlers have been supported by farming organisations and opposition political parties.
Deepender Hooda, an opposition leader of the Congress party told Sky News: "It’s a disgrace what is happening with our wrestlers, we are with them in their struggle."
‘We will fight this battle to the last breath’
One of the protesters, Atul Tewari, showed an imprint of a boot on his shirt and told Sky News: "I got kicked by a policeman, is this what they mean by protecting our girls and women?
"Renowned wrestlers who brought medals and honour to our country are treated like this."
He added: "Until and unless this man (Mr Singh) is arrested and put into jail we will continue.
"We will fight this battle to the last breath, it’s a fight for the honour of our women."
India’s Sports Ministry has stripped the Wrestling Federation of India of all administrative powers.
It has admitted to structural lapses and a lack of mechanisms for internal complaints of sexual harassment, which are mandated by law.
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