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Wrestling

"No justice, No Wrestling": Bajrang Punia refuses to budge amid protest

"No justice, no wrestling," Bajrang Punia told The Bridge.

Bajrang Punia Commonwealth Games 2022
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Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Bajrang Punia react during his bout at an event.

By

Pritish Raj

Published: 24 April 2023 9:09 AM GMT

New Delhi: Olympic medallists at a protest site is a rare sight in a country like India, but the country's top wrestlers have returned to Jantar Mantar here for the second time in three months on Sunday.

Demanding the removal of WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and strict action against him in the sexual harassment charges by the women's wrestlers, the wrestlers spent the entire Sunday night sleeping under the trees of the protest site.

"No justice, no wrestling. We are not moving from here till we get our due of justice," Olympic medalist Bajrang Punia told The Bridge on the sidelines of the protest.

Earlier in January, the wrestlers sat on the protest complaining about corruption in WFI and the removal of President Brij Bhushan Singh. After three days of protest, the sports ministry formed an oversight committee and the wrestlers called off the protest.

But after three months of the formation of the oversight committee, there is no clear report and wrestlers are back to protest amid rumors of malfunctioning from the committee.

Talking about the committee, Bajrang Punia said, "We cannot trust the oversight committee as the members of the committee are not satisfied with the work. I am sure the committee would not do any good for the wrestlers."

WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh has completed his term and he would not be contesting for the post of president in the WFI elections announced recently.

"We know that his term is going to be over but we have to fight the wrong. I know someone who will run the federation on his instructions will come and the problem will continue. We are here for the safety of women athletes and everybody knows who we are up against," Bajrang said about the elections.

When asked about the solution, Bajrang said, "There are many capable candidates. Former players are there both male and female. There is no women representation in the federation as it is a male-dominated organization. Last time when we sat in protest, we came to know that there is a committee for sexual harassment which was headed by Sakshi Malik. Sakshi had no idea of this. That is how shabby the system is."

With Asian Games coming and Olympic Games in sight, Bajrang Punia said, "This is extremely harmful to all the wrestlers sitting here. We all play for the pride of our nation and we want to end this soon and move our wrestling but since we are protesting here on the roads, I don't think there can be anything worse than this."

The wrestlers have now approached the Supreme Court seeking an FIR against the WFI chief. It remains to be seen how long the protest continues before the wrestlers return back to the mat.

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