Several women wrestlers, including medal winners from Commonwealth Games and Asian Championship, on Thursday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the ad-hoc panel running the WFI, requesting “fair trials” for Asian Games amidst reports that the six protesting grapplers may be given exemption.
The 24 women wrestlers from Sir Chhotu Ram Akhada in Rohtak, who also wrote to SAI Director General Sandeep Pradhan, have conveyed that they won’t accept a two-stage trial or any other relaxation given to the protesting grapplers.
The IOA-appointed ad-hoc panel has announced that Asian Games trials will be held on July 22-23 but did not reveal the criteria.
The wrestlers are even preparing to hit the roads for a fresh protest and approach the judiciary if any discriminatory decision is taken by the IOA ad-hoc committee.
Panel head Bhupender Singh Bajwa had on June 16 conveyed to the six protesting wrestlers -- Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, Sangeeta Phogat, Satyawart Kadian and Jirender Kinha -- that they will have to compete in just one final bout against the winners of the initial trials.
According to sources, the ad-hoc panel is deliberating over a criterion which will exempt current Olympic and World Championship medallists from the trials, which will benefit Bajrang, Vinesh and Ravi Dahiya.
The IOA has to submit the names of the participating wrestlers by July 23.
“Even if only three Olympians were to be given concessions, this would be wrong to the youngsters,” the wrestlers said in the letter that was also marked to Home Minister Amit Shah and Sports Minister Anurag Thakur.
“We feel this decision (two-stage trial) is unfair and unjust to the other emerging wrestlers of the nation as we have to fight and win approximately four to five bouts and one more qualifying bout against one of these wrestlers, and in contrast, they have to just fight single bout to qualify which is biased, unjustified and against the spirit of the right of equality.” The letter further read, “India is a democratic country... and under Article 14 of the Indian constitution, every citizen must be given the right to equality.
“Indian constitution is liberal, but the decision taken by the committee is against the fundamental rights of an individual’s opportunity as we are not getting an equal opportunity, and these six wrestlers are given special concession and benefits in the trials without any proper reason, and it is highly opposable and objectionable.” “We request you to reconsider this decision while keeping the rights, appeals, hope and future of all the talented emerging wrestlers in the account (sic).” Manisha, winner of a bronze medal in the Asian Championship (Astana) and gold at the UWW Ranking Series event (Bishkek) this year, Pooja Gehlot, winner of a bronze medal at the Birmingham CWG, along with 22 others, have signed the letter.
The signatories also include junior world championship bronze winner Ritika, U23 World Championship bronze winner Mansi, and U23 Asian Championship silver medallist Rajni.
Talking to PTI, Manisha said, “There should be just one trial. They can beat us in competition and go to Asian Games. At least we will have the satisfaction that they beat us. It is difficult to maintain weight. Two-stage trials are not acceptable.”
“Lot of athletes are with us. There should be fair trials,” she said.
Sarika, winner of the bronze medal at the junior Asian Championship, said, “If we have to protest or go to court, we are ready for everything. Wrestlers from Jalandhar, Sonepat, Jind and Hisar have also written letters to IOA and other authorities.” Jagdish Dhanda, a coach at Sir Chhotu Ram Akhada in Rohtak, also said that they would not accept any discrimination.
“From the first day, we were opposing any such move. Several junior and sub-junior wrestlers fear that it might happen to them also, so they have also come forward and signed the letter,” he said.
It is unclear if the six protesting wrestlers, who are in different parts of the world for training and competitions, will come back to India for trials this month.
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