Sports

Indian Wrestlers Accuse WFI of Devious Tactics, Threaten Restart of Protest

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 trio of Bajrang Punia, SakshiMalik and Vinesh Phogat.

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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. (File Photo)
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Olympic medal-winning grapplers Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia on Wednesday alleged that national federation chief Sanjay Singh used devious means to get the suspension on WFI lifted by United World Wrestling (UWW) and threatened to restart their agitation against the body. (More Sports News)

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 trio of Punia, Malik and Vinesh Phogat.

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

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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 women 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'.

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

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Sakshi stressed that if the BJP MP'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 some good people are entrusted the task to do 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 saying no one from his family will 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 has stated repeatedly 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 own constitution by announcing the dates of the age-group nationals at a short notice.

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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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