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‘If trials are only in the hands of WFI, and govt can’t do anything then we won’t participate in it’, says Bajrang Punia

New Delhi, Feb 29 2024-

Olympic bronze medallist Bajrang Punia on Thursday made it clear that they — Vinesh Phogat, retired Sakshi Malik and other protesting wrestlers – will not take part in the national trials announced by the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), till the government intervene in the matter and provide a “proper solution”.

On Monday, the WFI has invited the protesting grapplers to participate in the trials in March to select the teams for two top Asian competitions, including the 2024 Paris Games Qualifiers in Kyrgyzstan.

Speaking exclusively to IANS, Bajrang said, “We don’t know what is happening. Why is the government not doing anything? WFI is holding state elections, using government money, and holding trials despite getting suspended by the sports ministry. This is really disheartening. If trials are only in the hands of WFI (Wrestling Federation of India) and the government won’t do anything, then we will not go for the trials too.”

“He (Sanjay Singh) is making a mockery of all the rules and the government is not doing anything. This is bizarre. We need a proper solution to this.”

Earlier this month, the United World Wrestling (UWW) lifted the suspension of the Indian wrestling body with a condition that the three grapplers would be given fair chance and not be discriminated against for protesting against former national federation chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

The three have been demanding the arrest of Brij Bhushan for his alleged sexual harassment of women wrestlers. The sports ministry had also suspended the WFI last year in the wake of the serious allegations and instituted an ad-hoc panel to run the affairs of the sport.

The newly-elected body under Sanjay Singh was also suspended by the ministry.

However, with UWW backing, the WFI is now holding trials.

Interestingly, the government can’t interfere in the matter of the WFI directly, otherwise UWW will suspend it and Indian wrestlers will have to play under their banner in major tournaments. (Agency)

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