Grapplers’ stir: World wrestling body threatens WFI suspension

Wrestling’s world body also condemns detention of wrestlers

| Updated: 30 May, 2023 11:17 pm IST
Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik on her way to River Ganga in Haridwar

NEW DELHI: The international wrestling body, UWW (United World Wrestling), on Tuesday, May 30, came out in support of the Olympic wrestlers as it condemned the recent police highhandedness against them.

UWW’s comments came on a day when Olympic bronze medallists Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia and World Championship and Asian Games medallist Vinesh Phogat, along with others, almost immersed their medals in Ganga.

The wrestlers reached Haridwar to immerse their medals before farmer leader Naresh Tikait talked them out of their decision. The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) president also gave the government five days to act on the wrestlers’ demands.

ALSO READ: Protesting wrestlers to immerse medals in Ganga, launch hunger strike

India’s top wrestlers were demanding the resignation of the Wrestling Federation of India’s president, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. They are also demanding his arrest, claiming he has sexually harassed and abused many female wrestlers.

The wrestlers, who have been protesting in Jantar Mantar since April 23, faced police highhandedness on Sunday, May 28, when they tried to march to the new Parliament building. The Delhi Police jostled with the wrestlers and dragged them into police vans before detaining them.

ALSO READ: Beaten & detained, wrestlers now face case for rioting, assault

Reacting to the development, UWW said, “The events of these last days are even more worrying because the wrestlers were arrested and temporarily detained by the police for initiating a march of protest. The site where they had been protesting for more than a month has also been cleared out by the authorities.”

“UWW firmly condemns the treatment and detention of the wrestlers. It expresses its disappointment over the lack of results from the investigations so far. UWW urges the relevant authorities to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the allegations,” it stated.

ALSO READ: Delhi Police Shocker: After thrashing them, cops book Olympian wrestlers for Parliament protest

Coming down on the all-powerful WFI president and Uttar Pradesh strongman, Singh, UWW said, “For several months, United World Wrestling has followed with great concern the situation in India where wrestlers are protesting over allegations of abuse and harassment by the President of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).”

Threatening the WFI with suspension, UWW said, “UWW will request further information about the next elective general assembly from the IOA and the Ad-hoc Committee of the WFI. The 45-day deadline that was initially set to hold this elective assembly shall be respected.”

ALSO READ: Midnight drama at Jantar Mantar: Wrestlers face police high-handedness

“Failing to do so may lead the UWW to suspend the federation, thereby forcing the athletes to compete under a neutral flag. It is reminded that UWW already took a measure in this situation by reallocating the Asian Championship planned in New Delhi earlier this year,” it stated.

The world body further adds that it will hold a meeting with the wrestlers to inquire about their condition and safety and reconfirm its support for a fair and just resolution of their concerns.

ALSO WATCH: Midnight drama at Jantar Mantar: Wrestlers face police high-handedness

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