Vinesh Phogat to return her Khel Ratna, Arjuna Award

New Delhi: Asian and Commonwealth Games gold medalist Vinesh Phogat announced that she will be returning her Khel Ratna and Arjuna Award to the government over its support to former Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

After Olympic bronze medalist Sakshi Malik announced she is quitting wrestling and Bajrang Punia returned his Padma Shri award, Vinesh Phogat became the third high-profile wrestler to decide to relinquish awards given to them by the government.

“I am returning my Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award and the Arjuna Award. Thanks to the powerful people for pushing things to this stage,” Vinesh Phogat said in a letter addressed to the Prime Minister and posted on X, formerly Twitter.

The wrestlers are blaming the government for not preventing a close aide of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh from being elected as the president of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).

She said the Modi government had announced Sakshi Malik as the brand ambassador of the Save Girl Child campaign after she won the bronze medal in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and now dumped her for the sake of saving Brij Bhushan, who the wrestlers allege has been sexually harassing young female wrestlers.

Our lives are not at all like those fancy advertisements, we have suffered a lot in the last couple of years.

“The flex boards that had your fancy advertisements are old now and Sakshi has taken retirement whereas the perpetrators have maintained their reign and also announced his hegemony to the world,” he wrote.

She asked the PM to take five minutes from his busy schedule and listen to the statements made to the media by Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and his aide Sanjay Singh and he would know how they had confessed to harassing women wrestlers, she claimed.

The three renowned wrestlers along with many others had led a two-month-long protest seeking Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh’s arrest before they were forcefully detained by the Delhi Police.

Amid the ongoing controversy over the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), Congress leader Rahul Gandhi visited the Virender Arya Akhara in Haryana’s Jhajjar and also interacted with the wrestlers there.

Rahul Gandhi arrived at the Akhara in the morning in Jhajjar’s Chhara village. There he interacted with the wrestlers on their issues and the problems they face.

Meanwhile, Sanjay Singh, a close aide of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh whose election as president of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has triggered another storm in Indian sports, has claimed that he will take legal advice against the suspension of his panel by the sports ministry a couple of days back.


IOA forms 3-member ad hoc committee

New Delhi: Following the suspension of the newly elected administration of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has constituted a three-member ad hoc committee tasked with overseeing the day-to-day operations of the WFI.

As per the reports, the committee will be chaired by Bhupinder Singh Bajwa, who holds the position of president in the Wushu Association of India. The other two members include MM Somaya, an Olympian in hockey, and former international badminton player Manjusha Kanwar.

Sports ministry suspended the Sanjay Singh-led new WFI body three days after the elections over the announcement to hold U15 and U20 nationals and has asked IOA to establish a temporary panel to oversee the operations of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).

On December 21, the day Singh assumed the role of WFI president, he declared that national trials for wrestling in the U-15 and U-20 categories would be conducted in Uttar Pradesh’s Gonda before the conclusion of this year.

The ministry in its statement had said: “This announcement is hasty, without giving sufficient notice to wrestlers who are to take part in the said nationals and without following the provisions of the constitution of WFI.

Image courtesy of File photo

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