Will sit till we don’t get justice, say wrestlers as they resume protests


Indian wrestlers Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, and others on Sunday resumed their protest against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and its chief, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, at Jantar Mantar. The wrestlers, who held a sit-in protest in January, are accusing the WFI chief of sexual harassment and mistreatment of athletes. They also demand the disbandment of the WFI.
The wrestlers said that they took the step after alleging that no action has been taken in the matter and said that the FIR has not been registered against WFI chief. “We will sit here day and night. Till the time we don’t get justice. We will sit here,” Vinesh Phogat broke down while speaking to the media.
“It is about our safety and if we international medal-winning female wrestlers are not safe then who is safe? We are from a wrestling family and we are trying to save it till our last breath,” Phogat added.Sakshi Malik, visibly emotional, spoke to the media, saying that the wrestlers wanted to file a sexual harassment FIR against Singh but have seen no progress in the case. “We have been waiting for two and a half months now, but no one is listening. People are saying we are a spent force that is why we are protesting. We just won a medal at CWG 2022,” said Malik.
In January, the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports announced the formation of an ‘oversight committee’ to investigate the allegations against the WFI and its chief. The committee, led by Olympic medalist Mary Kom, was given the task of submitting a report on the issue to the ministry.
However, Bajrang Punia recently stated that the wrestlers plan to go to court to protest the oversight committee’s report. He cited concerns about a committee member’s disagreement with the report and the lack of signatures on the submitted document.
Punia also urged the WFI to make public the statements given by female wrestlers in a private TV channel sting operation to allow people to decide who is right or wrong. The wrestlers plan to continue their protest and take the matter to the high court as soon as possible.
The wrestlers, including Sakshi Malik and Ravi Dahiya, had in January raised the issue, but ended their three-day long sit-in after marathon talks with Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur.
Thakur had announced the five-member oversight committee, headed by legendary boxer M C Mary Kom, to look into the allegations.