Fresh protest erupts in Indian wrestling; this time against Bajrang, Sakshi and Vinesh

Loaded in buses, the junior wrestlers arrived from different parts of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi, catching the police unaware.

New Delhi: The ongoing crisis in Indian wrestling took a fresh twist on Wednesday when hundreds of junior wrestlers assembled at Jantar Mantar here to protest against the loss of one crucial year of their careers, a situation for which they blamed top grapplers Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat.

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Loaded in buses, the junior wrestlers arrived from different parts of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi, catching the police unaware.

Close to 300 of them came from Arya Samaj Akhara in Chhaprauli, Baghpat while many others came from the Virender Wrestling Academy in Narela. Many are still packed in buses and they plan to deboard and join their colleagues when more wrestlers arrive at the landmark protest site.

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The security personnel struggled to control them as they shouted slogans against Punia, Malik and Phogat.

The protesters were carrying banners that read: ‘UWW save our wrestling from these 3 wrestlers’.

Ironically, almost a year back at the same protest site, the top three wrestlers had managed to draw huge support for their cause when they called for the arrest of former WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh after accusing him of sexually harassing women wrestlers.

Thousands of people from different sections of society, including farmers groups, social workers, politicians, women’s groups and members of the wrestling fraternity, came out to support Malik, Phogat and Punia.

The three are now facing protests from within their community with those assembled at Jantar Mantar, accusing them of ruining their careers.

Since January 2023, national camps and competitions have been on hold as the WFI has been suspended twice and an ad-hoc panel is running the sport.

Those protesting on Wednesday demanded that the suspended WFI be restored after disbanding the ad-hoc panel which has been appointed to run the sport by the sports ministry.

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