Wrestler Vinesh Phogat will return Khel Ratna and Arjuna Awards amid WFI dispute, writes open letter to Prime Minister Modi


Wrestler Vinesh Phogat will return Khel Ratna and Arjuna Awards due to WFI dispute. Vinesh Phogat addressed an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, expressing her displeasure with former Wrestling Federation of India head Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh’s treatment of female wrestlers. Before the Sports Ministry suspended the newly-elected WFI panel, India’s top wrestlers objected. As a protest, Vinesh claimed she was returning her Khel Ratna and Arjuna Awards.

Wrestler Vinesh Phogat will return Khel Ratna and Arjuna Awards amid WFI dispute
Wrestler Vinesh Phogat will return Khel Ratna and Arjuna Awards amid WFI dispute. (pics credit: BBC)

 

Olympian Vinesh Phogat announced on Tuesday, December 26th, that she will be returning her Khel Ratna and Arjuna Awards in protest of the ongoing Wrestling Federation of India squabble. Vinesh Phogat expressed dismay in the treatment of female wrestlers in an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which was published on social media, even as they protested against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who was accused of sexually abusing wrestlers.

Vinesh Phogat noted how “oppressor” Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh managed to “ridicule” female wrestlers numerous times even as the country’s top wrestlers protested against the BJP MP and former WFI president.
Vinesh emphasised that Sakshee Malikkh resigned in protest of the newly-elected WFI board, and that Bajrang Punia left his Padma Shri Award on the Kartavya Path sidewalk in New Delhi as a symbol of his opposition.

Vinesh Phogat’s letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi comes just days after the Sports Ministry banned the newly-elected Wrestling Federation of India board, accusing it of being influenced by its former office-bearers. In a sharply worded statement, the government stated that the WFI office was also operating from the residence of the ex-president, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur also wrote to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), pleading with the governing body to appoint an ad hoc council to oversee the WFI’s daily operations.

Notably, Vinesh Phogat, together with Olympic medalists Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia, spoke at a news conference in New Delhi just hours after Sanjay Singh, a close assistant to Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, won the WFI presidency elections. The wrestlers expressed their disappointment, claiming that power had returned to those who had persecuted them in the past.

Vinesh Phogat also stated that her Olympic goal is fading and that the government has been unsupportive.

Vinesh Phogat letter to PM Modi:


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