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Top Indian wrestlers detained as protest against federation chief intensifies

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Indian wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, and Sakshi Malik address a news conference as they take part in a sit-in protest demanding arrest of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief, who they accuse of sexually harassing female players, in New Delhi, India, April 24, 2023. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi Acquire Licensing Rights

NEW DELHI, May 28 (Reuters) - Several of India's top wrestlers, including Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik, were detained by police on Sunday as they intensified their protest demanding the arrest of their federation chief over sexual harassment allegations.

The wrestlers originally hit the street in January demanding action against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who has denied allegations of sexually harassing several female athletes.

The protest was withdrawn after Singh, also a member of parliament from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, was stripped of all administrative powers by the sports ministry.

The wrestlers resumed their protest on April 23 demanding Singh's arrest and have since been camping near the new parliament building which Modi inaugurated on Sunday.

"They broke the barricades and didn't follow police directions," senior Delhi Police officer Dependra Pathak told local media.

"They broke the law, and that's why they were detained."

Malik, who won the women's 58kg freestyle bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics, shared photos and video of the wrestlers being dragged away by the police.

"This is how our champions are being treated. The world is watching us," she tweeted.

(This story has been refiled to correct a word in paragraph 2)

Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by Christopher Cushing

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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