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Sakshi Malik alleges WFI prez used devious means to get ban lifted by UWW

Wrestlers Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia threatened to start the agitation again if Sports Ministry doesn't take action against WFI.

Sakshi Malik alleges WFI prez used devious means to get ban lifted by UWW

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


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 15 Feb 2024 6:13 AM GMT

Prominent Indian wrestlers Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia alleged that the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Sanjay Singh used devious ways to get the suspension of the federation lifted by United World Wrestling (UWW), the international governing body of the sport.

The wrestlers also threatened to restart the agitation against the WFI.

The UWW on Tuesday lifted the provisional suspension on India but directed the national federation to provide written guarantees that there would be no discriminatory action against the protesting wrestlers like Punia, Malik, and Vinesh Phogat.

The suspension was imposed by UWW in August last year after the WFI failed to hold elections in time.

Punia, Malik, and Phogat have been protesting for more than a year, demanding the arrest of former WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh for allegedly sexually harassing woman grapplers.

"We came to know yesterday that Sanjay Singh had done some setting with UWW to get the suspension lifted. Brij Bhushan and Sanjay Singh have left no stone unturned to show that they are above the law," said Sakshi in a video posted on 'X' (formerly Twitter).

When asked about the latest developments on the sidelines of the Chess Olympiad Torch hand-off ceremony here, sports minister Anurag Thakur said, "We will let you know what we will do."

Sakshi stressed that if Brij Bhushan's loyalists are allowed to run the affairs of the WFI, the protesting wrestlers will be left with no choice but to restart the agitation.

"Our protest has only been suspended. I might have retired from wrestling but I not will tolerate Brij Bhushan or his people running the federation and harassing women," she asserted.

"In the next 2-4 days, we will contact the people associated with our agitation and chalk out the future course of action. I urge the government (to ensure) that Brij Bhushan or his group are barred forever from (running) the federation and that some good people are entrusted with the task of doing the job. Otherwise, we will have to restart the path of protest," warned Sakshi.

Punia echoed the sentiment in his video message on the same platform.

"Just 2-3 days back, Brij Bhushan's son became the president of the UP wrestling body despite him saying no one from his family would come into wrestling administration. The government had promised that Brij Bhushan or anyone of his relatives or associates will not govern the sport," Punia said.

Brij Bhushan, also a seating BJP MP, has stated that he has nothing to do with wrestling after completing his tenure as WFI president.

During the December elections, his loyalist Sanjay Singh was elected president, but within three days of taking charge, the sports ministry suspended the WFI for violating its constitution by announcing the dates of the age-group nationals at short notice.

Sakshi also alleged that the Sanjay Singh-led WFI had misused the federation's funds by conducting parallel nationals.

"The (IOA-constituted) ad-hoc committee conducted the senior nationals in a very professional manner (in Jaipur earlier this month). We welcomed that. Brij Bhushan and Sanjay Singh started breaking all the rules by conducting parallel nationals (in Pune) and threatening the coaches and referees and misusing the federation's money," she said.

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