Last Thursday, a very dramatic chapter happened in the Wrestling Federation of India. Sanjay Singh was elected as the new president of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) on 21 December. Sakshi Malik, the Olympic medal winning female wrestler, has retired in protest.
In agreement with that decision, another famous Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia announced to return his Padma Shri medal yesterday. The wrestler, who became the first Indian to win four world championship medals, wrote in a letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Twitter, “It is not possible for her to live with the respect given by the Government of India when women wrestlers are being insulted.”
Punia came out yesterday to leave the Padma Shri directly outside Modi’s house. But in the course of duty he will be arrested by the police officers on duty. Then Punia announced that he will deliver the medal to the Prime Minister, he will hand over the Padma Shri to the person who gives this word.
At that time, in response to the questions of the journalists, Punia said, ‘On such a day, I am saddened by the award and medal (not pride). I don’t know why these medals were given when we failed to fight for our daughters and sisters. I feel like I don’t deserve this medal. Federations are born to help players, not to cut them short or force them to retire.’ Not only wrestling, but also boxing stars have opened their mouths in this incident.
It all started with the appointment of Sanjay Singh as the new head of the WFI. Sanjay is blessed by BJP MP Brij Bhushan Singh. And all the objections of the wrestlers are about Brijbhushan.
Last January, women wrestlers in India went on strike against Brij Bhushan. The politician accused the then head of the wrestling federation of sexually harassing female wrestlers. He was accused by six wrestlers.
The sports ministry stripped him of his powers and the government promised an investigation. World Wrestling’s governing body UWW banned the Wrestling Federation of India over the incident. But no action has been taken in this case yet. Instead, a person close to Brijbhushan was elected as the head of the federation last Thursday.
Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat called a press conference after knowing who is the new head of the federation. They said that they had conveyed their complaint to Chief Minister Amit Shah before embarking on the agitation last January. But despite the promise, the incident was not prosecuted.
Tokyo Olympics medalist Punia said, they are now in fear for their lives, those who have protested, complained, everyone is under threat. Brij Bhushan’s powers are dismissing all allegations, as a result of which anything can happen any day, ‘No one’s future is secure. Anything can happen. Could be a car accident or some serious complaint.’
Malik, the only Indian woman wrestler to win an Olympic medal, broke down in tears at the press conference. Placing his wrestling shoes on the table, he announced, ‘I quit wrestling, from today you won’t see me on the mat again.’ On the other hand Brij Bhushan’s response to Malik’s retirement announcement was, ‘I have no role in it.’ Later said in this regard, there is a conspiracy of the opposition party.