Justice for wrestlers is bigger medal than Asian Games: Bajrang Punia

Accusations intensified between Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and top names in the sport, who staged a protest demanding his arrest for alleged sexual harassment of women wrestlers for the eighth day. sunday.

Wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik at a press conference during their protest at Jantar Mantar (PTI)

Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist Bajrang Punia declared that getting justice for victims of alleged sexual assault would be more valuable than winning a medal at this year’s Asian Games.

Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik, who are leading the protest, reiterated their demand for justice while addressing the media at the Jantar Mantar protest site.

Following the Supreme Court’s intervention, the Delhi Police on Friday registered two FIRs against Singh, one under section 10 of the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act, as it involved a minor complainant. And the second was on the complaints of six senior wrestlers. A case has been registered under IPC sections 354 (molestation), 354 (A) (sexual harassment), 354 (D) (stalking) and 34 (common intention).

“We have full faith in the judiciary. This is a fight for justice for the daughters of India. Till we get justice, we will continue our struggle. “We will fight till the end, no matter how long it takes.”

With the current protest entering its second week, the training of these top wrestlers to prepare for the Asian Games – which begins on September 23 in Huangzhou – has been affected. Malik last participated in the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games where he won the gold medal. Vinesh Phogat and Punia followed up their CWG gold with a bronze medal at last September’s World Championships in Belgrade. All three skipped nationals in December and two ranking series (Zagreb and Alexandria) in February, which came immediately after their January sit-in.

Substantial gaps in training and the rise of new talent mean that experienced wrestlers have a difficult road to Hangzhou. The federation, which is now run by an Indian Olympic Association-appointed ad-hoc committee, is yet to announce the dates for the trials for the Asian Games. Wrestlers are doing bodyweight exercises and dry training on the road at the picket site.

“We want to play and train for the Asian Games. We train here whenever we get a chance. But getting justice for the daughters of India will be a bigger medal for me than the Asian Games.

Both Phogat and Punia are the defending champions at the Asian Games. Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, running for the second consecutive day, claimed that the protest was politically motivated.

I can assure you that 90 per cent wrestlers from Haryana support and trust WFI. There is only one family which is protesting. All the complainants come from only one akhada which is Mahadev Wrestling Academy, and which is run by Deepinder Hooda,” Singh said in Gonda, UP.

After three terms as a Lok Sabha MP, Hooda is a Rajya Sabha MP from the Congress party.

Justice is not delivered at Jantar Mantar. You have to approach the police and courts. Till now, they had only misbehaved with me. Recently they have approached the court. I will accept whatever decision the court takes.

“Akhilesh Yadav (former UP chief minister and Samajwadi Party president) knows me very well. They know the truth,” Singh said when asked about the opposition parties meeting the protesters.

Punia accused Singh of politicizing his protest.

He wants to give political color to this struggle. The day the FIRs were filed against them, they activated their IT cell to run a defamation campaign against us. But justice cannot be served on the basis of his tweet. We have faith in the Supreme Court to deliver justice,” he said.

“Brijbhushan is claiming that we want to take over the federation. If one wants to hold office in the Union, then that person has to hold office in the State Union. His family is in various state federations and he is accusing us of trying to make WFI a family affair.

Responding to Singh’s claims that wrestlers do not have much support, Phogat said, “You can see here the kind of support we have. Not just Haryana, we have support from different states and all sports People like Neeraj Chopra and Abhinav Bindra have tweeted in our favor. Nikhat Zareen and Sania Mirza are not from Haryana and they have supported us.”

The apex court will next hear the matter on May 5.

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