Two pictures from the ongoing wrestlers' protest, one showing Vinesh Phogat, Sangeeta Phogat, and Bajrang Punia, and another showing a slightly empty protest site at Jantar Mantar, are being shared to claim that the protest has come to an end.
BOOM visited Jantar Mantar, where the wrestlers are protesting and found that the claim is false, and the protest has not ended.
Vinesh Phogat, Sangeeta Phogat, Sakshee Malikkh, and Bajrang Punia, along with other wrestlers have resumed their protest at Jantar Mantar against WFI chief and BJP MLA Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who has been accused of allegedly sexually harassing seven women, including a minor.
Amid this, a photo of the wrestlers carrying bags and a blanket is being shared to imply that they are walking away from the protest site. The second photo shows the protest from a distance to claim that it has ended.
The photos are being shared with the caption, "Jantar Mantar orphaned in a few hours. What did you think, what happened?"
(Original text in Hindi: "चंद घन्टों में जंतर-मंतर #अनाथ हो गया। क्या सोचा था, यह क्या हो गया?")
The claim is also circulating on Twitter.
BOOM found that the claim is false, and the wrestlers are continuing their protest at Jantar Mantar.
A reverse image search of the photo on Google led us to an Indian Express article published on April 28, 2023.
The photo was captioned, 'Wrestlers Bajrang Punia and Sangita Phogat following a night stay at Jantar Mantar amid their protest, in New Delhi. (PTI)'
Click here to view.
A BOOM correspondent spent the evening at the protest site at Jantar Mantar and spoke to several people, including the wrestlers and organisers, who refuted the viral claim.
Wrestlers Bajrang Punia and Sangeeta Phogat confirmed that the claim was false. "The photo is from April 28 and the rumours are false. Our fight will go on till we get justice," said Punia.
"Where will the girls change their clothes? Certainly not on the road. The washroom here doesn't even have water. Where will they freshen up?" added Phogat.
Wrestler Satyavrat Kadian, husband of Sakshee Malikkh and manager of the protest refuted the false claims. "We fold our blankets, pack them, and put them in our vehicles every morning, that is what the photo is showing. Our protest is still on," he said while explaining the photo of the three wrestlers with bags and shawls. "The second photo, which is taken from the back, shows our team adjusting the crowd and organising it," he added.
Mandeep Krantikari, a national level wrestler himself, who is managing the protest, also confirmed to BOOM that the first photo of the wrestlers is from April 28 and not recent. "Our day starts at around 5:30-6:00 AM. They (wrestlers) were just putting their things away in the morning," he explained.
"Since morning, so many groups have come here to support us. We are still sitting right here. Where have we gone?" he added. Mandeep also informed that he was in the second photo which is being circulated, standing in the left corner. "We clean the place and dust the blankets regularly," he said while explaining that the photo could have clicked during that time.
When BOOM visited, we saw several people gathered at the site with regular speeches being held listing out the issues and also sloganeering. A speaker at the protest site was also heard addressing the crowd and saying, "Brij Bhushan has wronged so many of our daughters. We need to be their voices. The BJP government has tortured our daughters, dalits, farmers, and oppressed many."
We also looked for reports about the protest being called off, and did not get any results.
A candle march was organised by the wrestlers, on May 7, videos of which have been shared on their official social media handles.
Several farmers unions such as Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) and Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) along with other Khap leaders have lent their support to the wrestlers and have given the government May 21 as a deadline to take action against Singh.