Sports

A Twist In India Wrestling Controversy: Junior Grapplers Train Guns On Protesting Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik And Vinesh Phogat

The protesting junior wrestlers blamed Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat for "ruining their careers". They gathered at Jantar Mantar to demand that the suspended WFI be restored, after disbanding the ad-hoc panel which has been inducted to run the sport

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Wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik address a press conference after Sanjay Singh, an associate of BJP MP and former chief of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, became the new President of WFI, in New Delhi.
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The impasse in Indian wrestling shows no signs of abating. Things have now taken a fresh turn, as hundreds of junior wrestlers got together to protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. Reason: the loss of one vital year of their careers, for which they heaped blame on Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat. (More Sports News)

Ironically, nearly a year back at the very same protest site, these three international wrestlers had drawn massive support for their cause when they sought the arrest of ousted Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh after accusing him of sexually harassing women wrestlers.

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Loaded in buses, the junior grapplers arrived from different parts of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi, catching the police unaware. Around 300 of them came from Arya Samaj Akhara in Chhaprauli, Baghpat while many others came from the Virender Wrestling Academy in Narela. 

Many others are still packed in buses and are planning to join their colleagues when more wrestlers arrive at Jantar Mantar. The security personnel struggled to control them as they shouted slogans against Punia, Malik and Phogat.

The protesters were carrying banners that read: 'UWW save our wrestling from these 3 wrestlers'. UWW stands for United World Wrestling, the global governing body for the sport. 

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Since January last year, national camps and competitions have been on hold as the WFI has been suspended twice and an ad-hoc panel is running the sport. Those protesting on Wednesday, January 3, 2024, demanded that the suspended WFI be restored after disbanding the ad-hoc panel which has been inducted to run the sport by the Union sports ministry.

The development marks a stark departure from last year, when thousands of people from various walks of life, including farmer groups, social workers, politicians, women's groups and members of the wrestling fraternity, had come out in support of Malik, Phogat and Punia.

The trio is now facing protests from within the community, with those gathered at the landmark protest site accusing them of ruining their careers.

(With PTI inputs)

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