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  5. 'Wrestlers under threat again': Bajrang Punia, Sakshee Malikkh write to UWW after WFI's reinstation

'Wrestlers under threat again': Bajrang Punia, Sakshee Malikkh write to UWW after WFI's reinstation

The United World Wrestling had lifted WFI's suspension "considering all the elements and information". However, the decision has met with backlash from the wrestlers Bajrang Punia and Sakshee Malikkh as they cited that the former WFI chief and his allies will be in power again.

Edited By: Anshul Gupta @oyegupta_ New Delhi Published on: February 15, 2024 15:21 IST
Bajrang Punia and Sakshee Malikkh have written an open
Image Source : PTI Bajrang Punia and Sakshee Malikkh have written an open letter to UWW after WFI's suspension was revoked

Indian wrestlers Bajrang Punia and Sakshee Malikkh have written an open letter to the United World Wrestling (UWW) suggesting that their wrestling community is under threat yet again after the suspension of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) was lifted. UWW had suspended WFI in August for not holding elections and after six months decided to reinstate the Indian wrestling body saying, "The UWW Bureau met on February 9 to review the suspension among other topics and considering all the elements and information, it decided to lift the suspension."

However, on Thursday, February 15, both Punia and Malikkh in a long letter said that the Indian wrestlers will be subject to harassment by the WFI members again given the current president is a close aide of his predecessor. The duo said that the WFI didn't recognise even the sports ministry's directives and the ad-hoc committee and asked to take necessary action against the body because the wrestlers have lost their trust.

Here's the statement:

"This decision has again put Indian wrestlers under threat and harassment by WFI members. This is to bring to your notice that this WFI was suspended by the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MYAS) dated 27 December 2023 due to serious anomalies after a couple of days of taking charge.

"MYAS also formed an Ad Hoc Committee to oversee and conduct wrestling activities. Even after this suspension, WFI members took blatant decisions to conduct sporting activities without any recognition from sports ministries under the same leadership. Wrestlers all over India have lost trust and belief in the functioning of Wrestling Federation of India. Because of this MYAS took diligent steps and issued a circular dated 7th January 2024.

"Even after this they have publicly issued statements against wrestlers and Ad Hoc Committee. This elected body is still being run by same individual and their allies who serious charges against them and MYAS also took the same in consideration while suspending the body. For your reference we have attached the mentioned letters.

"We wrestlers request you kindly support Indian athletes against unfair practices and harassment through various means. Indian wrestlers are looking up to you for justice and their rights to fair and safe play. "We are hopeful that you will consider our request to support clean and fair sports activities in India and take necessary actions against the WFI," the joint statement by Punia and Malikkh added.

The WFI president Sanjay Singh went ahead and hold national championships going against the ministry and the ad-hoc committee's orders. Despite the reinstation, the UWW has mentioned that it will keep it under check. "The WFI has to immediately provide UWW with written guarantees that all wrestlers will be considered for participation without any discrimination in all WFI events, in particular trials for the Olympic Games and any other major national and international events. This non-discrimination includes the three athletes who protested against alleged wrongdoings by the former President," it said.

The reinstation means that the Indian wrestlers will be able to play under the Indian flag in the competitions recognised by UWW across the world. 


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