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Vinesh Phogat leaves Khel Ratna and Arjuna awards on Kartavya Path

Vinesh Phogat had written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi when she stressed upon the treatment meted out to the female wrestlers. Vinesh also said she would return the Khel Ratna and the Arjuna awards.

Written By: Varun Malik @varunm0212 New Delhi Updated on: December 30, 2023 19:47 IST
Vinesh Phogat
Image Source : PTI Vinesh Phogat (L) and Sakshi Malik.

India's celebrated wrestler Vinesh Phogat on Saturday left her Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna award and Arjuna award at the pavement of the Kartavya Path in mark of her protest against the WFI row. Vinesh was looking to return the awards at the Prime Minister's Office but was stopped by the Police and she kept the honours at the Kartavya Path.

Vinesh had earlier written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra where she highlighted the treatment meted out to the female wrestlers. She confirmed that she would be returning the awards to the government in the same letter to the PM. She is among the wrestlers protesting against the appointment of Sanjay Singh, a close aide of former WFI President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, as the new president of the now-suspended WFI body.

Before Vinesh, Bajrang Punia had also returned his Padma Shri award as he kept the honour on the Kartavya Path footpath. Bajrang has also opened up on Vinesh's move to return the awards. He shared the video on social media and wrote, "May this day not come in the life of any player. The women wrestlers of the country are going through the worst phase." The awards were picked by the Delhi Police.

In her letter to PM, Vinesh wrote, "Sakshi Malik has quit wrestling and Bajrang Punia has returned his Padma Shri award. The whole country knows why the country's Olympic medal-winning players were forced to do all this. I remember the year 2016, when Sakshi Malik won a medal in the Olympics, your government made her the brand ambassador of “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao”. When this was announced, all the women players of the country were happy and congratulating each other. Today, ever since Sakshi had to leave wrestling, I am remembering that year 2016 again and again. Are we female players made only to appear on government advertisements?"

"What the women wrestlers have experienced in the last few years must have made one understand how suffocated we are living. When we won medals for the country, the whole country considered us proud. Now when we raised our voice for our justice, we are being called traitors. Prime Minister, I want to ask you, are we traitors? I don't know under what condition Bajrang would have decided to return his Padma Shri. I too have started feeling disgusted with my awards," she added.

"I would now like to be rid of the image of Vinesh receiving her awards, as that was a dream but what is happening to us today is the reality. I was given the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna and the Arjuna Award, which no longer mean anything in my life. Every woman wants to live with dignity. That is why, Prime Minister Sir, I wish to return my Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna and Arjuna Award to you – so that these prizes do not burden us on our path to living with dignity," she said in the letter.

The WFI body, under Sanjay Singh, was suspended by the Sports Ministry on December 24. It was elected three days prior on December 21.


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