Why Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and other wrestlers are protesting against Wrestling Federation at Jantar Mantar?
Elite group of Indian wrestlers including Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, CWG 2022 gold medallist Bajrang Punia and other have gathered at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi to protest against the highhandedness of the Wrestling Federation of India.
Vinesh Phogat, India’s first woman wrestler to win a gold medal in both Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games, expressed her frustration over Twitter by calling out the Wrestling Federation of India.
“The player wants self-respect and prepares for the Olympic and big games with full vigour, but if the federation does not support them, the morale breaks down. But now we will not bow down. We will fight for our rights,” she wrote.
Meanwhile, Bajrang Punia, gold medallist at CWG 2022 brushed aside the possibility of politicising the matter and confirmed that ‘politicians had nothing to do with it.’
“Our protest is against the federation and the way it has been functioning without keeping the best interests of wrestlers in mind. This has nothing to do with politics of any sort,” Punia said.
In another tweet, Punia suggested that the “job of the federation is to support the players, take care of their sporting needs.’ “If there is a problem, it has to be solved. But what if the federation itself creates the problem? Now we have to fight, we will not back down,” he further tweeted.
Taking to Twitter, Sakshi Malik wrote, ‘sportspersons work hard to win medals for the country, but the Federation has done nothing but let us down’. “Players are being harassed by imposing arbitrary law,” she wrote.
Reason behind rift
The protest comes after the Federation made it mandatory for all the wrestlers, irrespective of their status, to attend trials.
“We were not aware they were going to protest. It might be due to the fact that wrestlers have to take part in trials to select the team for the world championships,” a spokesperson from the Federation told Sportstar.
Meanwhile, WFI vice-president, Asit Saha told The Quint that the rift between players and the federation started during National Wrestling Championships 2022, which took place in Delhi last month.
“We wanted the top wrestlers to participate in the event, but the likes of Bajrang, Sakshi and Vinesh decided to give it a miss. We only found it right that those who participated, and won medals at the National Wrestling Championships, should be preferred in international events,” Mr Saha told The Quint.