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Business News/ News / India/  Why is wrestling community protesting against Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat
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Why is wrestling community protesting against Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat

Top wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, and Vinesh Phogat are facing protests from their wrestling community, with protesters blaming them for adversely affecting their careers.

FILE PHOTO: 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/File Photo (REUTERS)Premium
FILE PHOTO: 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/File Photo (REUTERS)

Hundreds of junior wrestlers gathered at Jantar Mantar on Wednesday to express their discontent over losing a crucial year in their careers.

As reported by PTI, junior wrestlers blamed this situation on top wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, and Vinesh Phogat. Arriving in buses from various regions in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Delhi, the junior wrestlers caught the police off guard.

As per the report, approximately 300 of the protesters travelled from Arya Samaj Akhara in Chhaprauli, Baghpat, while additional participants came from the Virender Wrestling Academy in Narela. A considerable number of them remain on buses, intending to disembark and join the protest when more wrestlers arrive at the well-known protest site.

Also Read: Wrestlers’ protest: These athletes have returned their medals, awards after Sanjay Singh became WFI president

The security personnel faced challenges in managing the situation as the protestors vociferously chanted slogans against Punia, Malik, and Phogat.

The protesters were carrying banners that read: ‘UWW save our wrestling from these 3 wrestlers’.

Also Read: Govt asks Indian Olympic Association to form panel for running wrestling body

Interestingly, nearly a year ago, at the very same protest location, the top three wrestlers garnered significant backing for their campaign. They had rallied for the arrest of former Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, alleging him of sexual harassment against women wrestlers.

Sakshi Malik said, “We knew Brij Bhushan (Sharan Singh) is influential, but we had no idea he would be this powerful. Now, his propaganda is to make allegations that we have been grabbing young wrestlers' opportunities. However, now that I have retired, I want young girls to win and fulfil my dream."

She further alleged that her mother is receiving threatening phone calls. “For the past 2-3 days, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh's goons have been active. My mother is getting threatening phone calls. Our safety is the government's responsibility."

Also Read: Wrestlers' protest: After Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat leaves Khel Ratna, Arjuna Award at Kartavya Path

Thousands of individuals from diverse segments of society, including farmers' groups, social activists, politicians, women's organizations, and members of the wrestling community, came forward to endorse and support Malik, Phogat, and Punia.

Currently, the trio is encountering dissent from within their own community, as those gathered at Jantar Mantar blame them for adversely affecting their careers. The disruption began in January 2023, leading to the suspension of national camps and competitions.

Also Read: ‘Our fight is not with govt…,’ wrestler Sakshee Malikkh hints at a possible return

The WFI has faced two suspensions during this period, with an ad-hoc panel overseeing the sport. The protesters on Wednesday called for the reinstatement of the suspended WFI, urging the dissolution of the ad-hoc panel appointed by the sports ministry to manage the sport.

(With PTI inputs)

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Published: 03 Jan 2024, 01:36 PM IST
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