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Final call of action: Top Indian wrestlers against WFI President

Indian wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat sat on an indefinite protest against WFI President Brij Bhushan Singh.

Final call of action: Top Indian wrestlers against WFI President

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


Pritish Raj

Updated: 24 April 2023 3:02 AM GMT

Jantar Mantar, New Delhi: A lazy Sunday afternoon turned chaotic after top Indian wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, and Sakshi Malik moved back to the national capital to protest against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

"We are not moving this time and we will sit here till we get justice," roared a visibly emotional Vinesh Phogat while talking to The Bridge on the sidelines of the protest.

The wrestlers have returned to the protest site after three months of initiating an all-out attack against WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh on the grounds of corruption and sexual harassment.

The demands are very clear and the wrestlers want the WFI president to be removed from his post along with legal action for the sexual harassment charges leveled against him.

Sitting on the protest were Olympic medalists Bajrang Punia, World Championship medalist Vinesh Phogat, and Rio Olympic medalist Sakshi Malik were accompanied by Sangeet Phogat, Satyawrat Kadian, and Somvir Rathee.

An oversight committee was made to present the report in front of the Sports Ministry within one month but the report never came out with multiple speculations about the committee coming out.

"We have been waiting for the past 3 months and nothing is clear as such. WFI President is running the federation. The FIR of the complaint has not been registered," Sakshi told The Bridge.

The wrestlers have submitted a complaint against the WFI president on the grounds of sexual harassment but the police are yet to register the FIR.

Commenting on it, Sakshi said," It is a sensitive issue and nobody is doing anything about it. Out of the seven girls, one of them is minor and it makes a case for the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) but nobody is taking any account of it."

Talking about the delay in the result by the oversight committee, Olympian Vinesh Phogat said, "We have been fooled to be very honest. The four weeks promised have stretchered to this long now. We are suffering too much torture now."

While the wrestlers are sitting in protest in the scorching Delhi heat, WFI President Brij Bhushan Singh conducted a national-level wrestling tournament in his hometown of Gonda, Uttar Pradesh.

Talking about this, Vinesh said, "The federation is running without issues while we wrestlers are back to torture. How do we call this justice?"

The oversight committee which consisted of boxing legend MC Mary Kom is yet to come out with the findings in public and there have been reports of internal conflict among the members.

"We don't know what has happened inside the committee. We were asked to present our side and we did that. Nobody is picking up calls and nobody is being accountable for this serious thing," said Vinesh.

With Asian Games happening this year and the 2024 Olympics in sight, the wrestlers are losing out on the crucial time of match practice with India sending a young team to Asian Wrestling Championships last month.

"Government should look into this. The sports ministry has the power and they should look at the fact that the players are in trouble. They are running away from their responsibility," an enraged Vinesh said.

With no clarity on what will happen next, the protest site witnessed some scuffles and heated moments too. After the police stopped Vinesh Phogat and her husband from entering the protest site with food late in the night, the wrestlers talked to the media again.

Talking to the media, Vinesh said, "I went out and they shut the gates. They didn't let me enter. They have stopped the water supply and they have closed the washrooms also."

With the premier wrestlers sitting the whole night at the protest site, it is about time that the Sports Ministry and the Government of India take note of the incident and take some strict action in it.

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