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International referee sacked from WFI technical committee for supporting wrestlers' protest

Jagbir Singh has been removed from the WFI technical committee for showing solidarity with the wrestlers.

International referee sacked from WFI technical committee for supporting wrestlers protest
Referee Jagbir Singh (right) in a previous incident (File Photo)

Pritish Raj

Updated: 28 April 2023 7:52 AM GMT

Jantar Mantar, New Delhi: The sit-in protest by India's top wrestlers against WFI President Brij Bushan Sharan Singh here have not only taken a toll on the wrestlers, but also the people supporting them.

One such name is international wrestling referee Jagbir Singh, who has been removed from the WFI technical committee for showing solidarity with the wrestlers.

Talking to The Bridge on the sidelines of the protest, Jagbir said, "WFI has removed my name from the list of technical officials. This happened on the 6th of April after they removed me from a Whatsapp group made for technical officials."

The Bridge accessed the WhatsApp group which had technical officials from the whole country.

"They released a list of technical officials for ranking series in Gonda and my name was removed from it. The primary reason is my support for these wrestlers. This is a long story," said Jagbir.

Narrating what happened in his removal from the committee, Jagbir said, "After the first protest in January, there was a meeting of all the akhadas where all these wrestlers (Vinesh and Bajrang) came to ask for our support on 12th February. This was totally unrelated to WFI. The wrestlers asked for support and we were ready to support them. I was removed based on this without any clear explanation."

One of the regular faces at the international and national level wrestling tournaments as a mat in charge or match referee, Jagbir is one of the most experienced wrestling officials in the country and has been active since 2007.

"The most recent tournament I have conducted is trials for Asian Wrestling Championships. I have traveled to multiple World Championships with the team," told Jagbir.

He alleged that banned WFI assistant secretary Vinod Tomar was behind this move. He said, "Vinod Tomar in a meeting said that jo bhi log federation ke khilaaf gaye unko humne sabak sikha diya hai (the ones who went against the federation, we have taught them a lesson)"

"Who is he to remove me when he was banned? He has no right to suspend the active technical officials without any reason. It is a shame that Olympians and world championships medalists are sitting here on the road and sleeping on pavements," he added further.

Jagbir was also involved in the infamous Satender Malik case where the wrestler was banned for hitting the referee after a match result went against the wrestler.

He is not the only official removed to have met this fate as another referee BS Dahiya, who too was removed from the Whatsapp group, repeats the same story citing the meeting of akhadas as the reason.

Talking about his next move, Jagbir said, "I do not care at the moment what the federation does. I am here with the kids and I will continue to support them till we get rid of the corrupt WFI President."

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