Sports

I'll Obey What Khap Panchayat Says : Bajrang Punia

Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia indicated he might withdraw from the Asian Games if Khap Panchayat commands him to do so.

Bajrang Punia at Panchayat in Sonipat
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Olympic bronze medallist Bajrang Punia on Thursday indicated he might withdraw from the Asian Games if all the panchayats that backed him during the protest at Jantar Mantar ask him to do so.
    
 Bajrang and five fellow wrestlers, including Olympic medaillst Sakshi Malik and Asian Games gold medallist Vinesh Phogat, sat at the Jantar Mantar here demanding the arrest of outgoing WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh for alleged sexual harassment, and several khap panchayats had come to support them.
    
 But, later on, they were not happy with Bajrang and Vinesh demanding exemption from the Asian Games trials in July and then accepting direct entries to the quadrennial showpiece event in Hangzhou from September 23.
    
 In the wake of the exemption given to the two from appearing in trials, the parents and coaches of the wrestlers, who had appeared in the July trials, held protests in Hisar and at the Indian Olympic Association headquarters in New Delhi against the decision of the IOA-constituted ad-hoc committee for wrestling.
    
 A meeting of khap panchayats was also convened at the Jat Dharamshala in Jind to discuss the alleged mis-treatment of Vishal Kaliraman, who had topped the Asian Games trials but his name was sent as standby, while Bajrang was the first choice in the 65kg freestyle category.
    
 With the anger among the khap panchayats rising, Bajrang indicated at the Mahapanchayat in Jind district of Haryana that he could withdraw from the Asian Games if the panchayats, which backed him during the protest at Jantar Mantar, ask him to do so.
    
 Around 25 khaps attend the meeting but BKU's Naresh Tikait, who visited the protest site at Jantar Mantar on several occasions, was absent.
    
 The next Khap Mahapanchayat will be held on September 10.
    
 "All those khap panchayats, all those Chaudhury organisation members who joined in the protest at Jantar Mantar, gather them together. Whatever command they give, I am ready to obey that," the Tokyo bronze-medal winner said.
    
 "I am not going to make a decision confined in a room. All the khap panchayats should take that decision. We are engaged in the fight for daughters, because we are not fighting a wrestling match, we are fighting the battle for our daughters."
    
 However, the mahapanchayat could not arrive at a decision on Thursday and another meeting has been called on September 10.
    
 But Bajrang will not attend the September 10 mahapanchayat because he is leaving for Issyk-kul in Kyrgyzstan for training.
    
 He, however, said he will accept and honour whatever decision the mahapanchayat takes.

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