Olympic medallist Bajrang Punia has criticized former Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh for his alleged comment that a medal is worth just Rs 15 and the grapplers should also return the crores of rupees the government has spent on their training.
Brij Bhushan, who is in the eye of a storm for allegedly sexually harassing women wrestlers including a minor, said in a video interview that not just the medals, the athletes should also return the crores of rupees spent on their training.
Bajrang, who is leading the protest at Jantar Mantar along with fellow Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik and Asian Games gold medallist Vinesh Phogat, said on Friday that the medal Brij Bhushan was demeaning by saying it was worth just Rs 15 had been "earned after 15 years of toil".
"He (Brij Bhushan) has not given me the medal in charity. I have earned it for the country with my blood and sweat. He shouldn't have uttered these words if he truly respects our achievements," added Bajrang.
Sakshi said that, at an age when she should have been playing with dolls, she took up wrestling and "embraced the mud pits".
"The medal he (Brij Bhushan) is saying is worth Rs 15, we have sacrificed everything for that. It's shameful that the champion athletes of the country are seeing such bad days. I have won this medal for the country, no one can put a price on it," said Sakshi.
Earlier in the day, top Congress leader Sachin Pilot arrived at the Jantar Mantar to extend his support to the agitating wrestlers. Pilot said the "legitimate demand" of the wrestlers should be met at the earliest and an "impartial" investigation is carried out under the purview of the law.
As the protest entered its 27th day, several women's organizations jointly gave a memorandum to the President, Prime Minister, Home Minister, and Sports Minister and demanded the arrest of Brij Bhushan.
They alleged in the memorandum that ever since the politician took charge of WFI, women wrestlers had been facing sexual harassment.
The protesting wrestlers also said that the deadline given to the government to take action against Brij Bhushan was due to expire in two days and the khap mahapanchayat could take a "big decision" after that. They also said the agitation at Jantar Mantar will continue until Brij Bhushan is arrested.