September 21, 2023

I am with you: PT Usha assures support to protesting wrestlers

Ace wrestler Bajrang Punia on Tuesday said that Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president PT Usha has assured the grapplers of her solidarity with their protest against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) Chief and said that she will help them to “get justice.”
The IOA president arrived at Jantar Mantar earlier today where the wrestlers have been staging a protest for the last 11 days demanding that action be taken against the WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who is facing allegations of sexual harassment. “She (Usha) said that I am with you and I will help you get justice,” Punia told media persons after the meeting.
The Olympic 2021 Bronze medalist further added that the wrestlers will continue their protest till the time the WFI Chief is put behind bars.
“We will stay here until he goes to jail,” Punia said.

Previously, Usha had ruffled feathers with her remarks that the wrestlers should have approached the IOA instead of going out in the streets against the WFI and its president, whom the wrestlers accused of sexual harassment and mismanagement of athletes.
“Indian Olympic Association (IOA) is having a committee for sexual harassment, instead of going to the streets they (protesting wrestlers) could have come to us earlier but they did not come to IOA. It is not good for sports not only for wrestlers, they should also have some discipline,” the IOA president had told mediapersons.
Wrestlers had expressed their disappointment at her April 27 remarks.
“Being a woman athlete, she (PT Usha) is not listening to other women athletes. We have followed her since childhood and got inspired by her. Where is indiscipline here, we are sitting here peacefully,” Sakshee Malikkh told mediapersons.
Vinesh Phogat, a CWG and World Championships medalist also termed Usha’s comments as “insensitive”.
“We live as per the constitution and are independent citizens. We can go anywhere. If we are sitting out in the streets, there must be some reason, a reason that nobody listened to us, be it IOA or Sports Ministry. Her saying this is insensitive. I even called her, but she did not pick up my phone,” said Vinesh.
Three months ago prominent wrestlers came forward to lead a protest against the WFI Chief, the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports announced the formation of an ‘oversight committee’ to probe allegations levelled against the WFI and its chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and other coaches.
The committee was tasked with submitting a report on the issue to the ministry. The wrestlers launched a fresh protest in April. On April 30, Delhi Police registered two FIRs against WFI president Singh over allegations of sexual harassment and exploitation of female wrestlers by him. Top Indian grapplers such as Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia, and many other wrestlers are involved in the protest against the WFI chief. (ANI)