Indian wrestlers, including Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik, have assembled at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi to protest against the high handedness of the Wrestling Federation of India.
Vinesh Phogat, the first Indian wrestler woman wrestler to win a gold medal in both Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games, expressed her frustration on the Federation’s operation, taking to social media to tweet about the same.
“The player wants self-respect and prepares for the Olympics and big games with full vigor, but if the federation does not support them, the morale breaks down. But now we will not bow down. Will fight for our rights,” she wrote.
Bajrang Punia, who won the gold medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, said that the protest “purely a protest of wrestlers” and 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,” he said.
“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.
The protest comes after the Federation made it mandatory for all wrestlers, irrespective of their status, to attend trials.
“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 laws,” wrestler Sakshi Malik wrote on Twitter.
“We are 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 sporkesperson from the Federation told Sportstar.
The wrestlers, who have been sitting at Jantar Mantar since morning, say that they will not participate in any national or international competitions until their demands are met.