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Fresh protest erupts, Wrestlers target Bajrang, Vinesh, Sakshi

Fresh protests erupted at Jantar Mantar accusing Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, and Sakshi Malik of stalling the sport of wrestling.

Fresh protest erupts, Wrestlers target Bajrang, Vinesh, Sakshi

Pritish Raj

Updated: 3 Jan 2024 12:17 PM GMT

New Delhi: Indian wrestling took a new turn on Wednesday when hundreds of junior wrestlers assembled at Jantar Mantar to protest against the loss of one year blaming Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, and Vinesh Phogat.

The wrestlers arrived in buses from different parts of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Delhi.

Close to 300 of them came from Arya Samaj Akhara in Chhaprauli, Baghpat while many others came from the Virender Wrestling Academy in Narela.

Many are still packed in buses and they plan to deboard and join their colleagues when more wrestlers arrive at the landmark protest site.

The security personnel struggled to control them as they shouted slogans against Punia, Malik, and Phogat. The protesters were carrying banners that read: 'UWW save our wrestling from these 3 wrestlers'.

Since January 2023, national camps and competitions have been on hold as the WFI has been suspended twice and an ad-hoc panel is running the sport.

Those protesting on Wednesday demanded that the suspended WFI be restored after disbanding the ad-hoc panel that has been appointed to run the sport by the sports ministry.

"An entire year for these junior wrestlers has gone waste. The new WFI had decided for the welfare of the wrestlers who had not seen even district or state level competitions, leave aside the nationals," said Vivek Malik who belongs to the Arya Samaj Akhara.

The wrestlers returned after staying at the spot for more than three hours. The wrestlers and coaches demanded Sports Ministry revoke the suspension of the newly-elected Wrestling Federation of India.

Several wrestlers also wrote to the international governing body United World Wrestling asking to intervene and resolve the wrestling crisis in India.

UWW banned the Wrestling Federation of India last year due to bad governance and failure to conduct the elections.

The new elections conducted on 21st December saw Brij Bhushan loyalist Sanjay Singh emerge as the new president of the WFI but was suspended by Sports Ministry days later.

Ironically, almost a year back at the same protest site, the top three wrestlers had managed to draw huge support for their cause when they called for the arrest of former WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh after accusing him of sexually harassing women wrestlers.

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