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Blaming the wrestlers for protests is unjustified

The wrestlers chose the alleged 'INDISCIPLINED' route of protest when the doors were closed by committees and commissions.

Blaming the wrestlers for protests is unjustified

Sakshi Malik (right), Vinesh Phogat (second from right), and Bajrang Punia (center) took Jantar Mantar to protest against the WFI President. (PritishRaj/TheBridge)


Pritish Raj

Updated: 28 April 2023 11:22 AM GMT

Jantar Mantar, New Delhi: As the sun set on the horizon of the national capital on Thursday, a few policemen were gearing up to change their shift whilst the crowd slowly dispersed from the protest site here.

Minutes back, Olympic medalist Bajrang Punia was reacting furiously to the comments made by IOA President PT Usha and how they are heartbroken at the fact that a former athlete is alleging them of indiscipline.

While all this was happening in the background, a famous couplet of Akbar Allahabadi rang into ears: "Hum aah bhi karte hai toh ho jaate hai badnaam, who katal bhi karte toh charcha nahi hota," which roughly translates to "we become infamous when we breathe but nobody talks when they kill someone."

Surprisingly the couplet suits the current situation of Indian wrestlers aptly.

The wrestlers who are protesting against WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh on the charges of sexual harassment were termed indisciplined and blamed of bringing shame to the country by the IOA chief, but the man in question is unscathed cause nobody dares to speak.

Silence is deafening

While the silence of the top brass of the Indian government is expected given the accused is from the ruling party, more worrying and deafening is the silence of the sporting community at the moment along with the ever-active celebrities of India.

Olympic medalist Sakshi Malik asked, "Why are you not listening to our 'Mann Ki Baat'" referring to the famous radio show hosted by PM Modi.

Only a handful of top athletes have spoken about it including India's two Olympic champions- Neeraj Chopra and Abhinav Bindra, that too after five days of wait.

The candles after the march done by Wrestler's in solidarity. (PritishRaj/TheBridge)

"PM Modi sir talks about 'Beti Bachao' and 'Beti Padhao', and listens to everyone's Mann Ki Baat. Can't he listen to our mann ki baat? He invites us to his home when we win medals and gives us a lot of respect and calls us his daughters. Today, we appeal to him that he listens to our Mann Ki Baat," Sakshi added further.

All the tweets, photos, selfies, and videos posted during the victorious moment of these wrestlers become null and void because there is absolute silence when it is needed.

In a country where Black Lives Matters is supported with all the clout of social media by prominent figures, the plight of Olympic medalists is going unheard.

This raises an important question - is all the social media clout just a PR exercise to tell the masses that we follow Olympic sports or do the cricketers, ministers, and celebrities really care about it?

What is shameful: Protest or the reason for protest?

When IOA chief PT Usha walked out of the Olympic Bhawan after a three-hour-long meeting, the eyes of the media present outside brightened up with everyone hoping for a bold statement; but the statement which came up left everyone in either shock or disbelief.

One of India's most celebrated athletes and at a position of authority dismissed one of the rarest moments of Indian sporting history as indiscipline and shameful is something to be worried about.

The makeshift sleeping arrangement for the wrestlers at the protest site termed as roads of country by PT Usha. (PritishRaj/TheBridge)

The wrestlers chose the alleged 'INDISCIPLINED' route when the doors were closed by committees and commissions. The irony of the fact is that the committee consisted of former Olympic medalists Mary Kom, Yogeshwar Dutt, and Babita Phogat.

The treatment handed out to them certainly justifies the iconic Bollywood saying "Hume toh apno ne loota, gairon me kahan dum tha (We were betrayed by our own rather than outsiders)."

As the time of publishing this piece, the messages displaying solidarity with the protestors are flooding social media - all with a similar template.

Anyway, it only makes sense that in a country of 1.4 billion where Olympic medals are rare, the ones winning it are putting up a rare fight against power and authority.

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