Olympics Champion Sakshi Malik Quits Wrestling, Bajrang Punia Declare to Return Padma Shri, after WFI Poll results

Sakshi Malik

Sanjay Singh, a close aide of Brij Bhushan Singh, has won elections as the President of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI). Disappointed over the news of polls, the Rio Olympic Bronze medal winner Sakshi Malik quits wrestling.

The protestor’s choice for the WFI President, Anita Sheoran got only seven votes whereas Sanjay Singh, who has a close aide with Brij Bhushan Singh, won 40 out of 47.

Bajrang Punia declared returning his Padma Shri to Government

On X handle, Olympic Medalist Bajrang Punia wrote a letter to PM Narendra Modi that he is returning his Padma Shri award. In the letter he wrote, he would return the Padma Shri as his demands were not being heard.

Source X
Source X

Why did the wrestlers protest?

Indian wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, and Sakshi Malik started their protest and alleged Brij Bhushan Singh for sexual abuse and intimidation. They demanded the resignation of WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. On the same day, Brij Bhushan denied all accusations. The protest began at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi in Jan 2023. They even protested in New Delhi on May 28 during the inauguration of the new parliament building of India. On May 30, wrestlers reached Haridwar to submerge their medals in the holy Ganga as a form of protest against Brij Bhushan Singh. Later, the plan was canceled after farmer representatives asked for five more days to find a solution.

Malik, Phogat, statement after the outcome of the polls

Malik, Vinesh Phogat, and Bajrang Punia—who had led the wrestlers’ protests in the nation’s capital earlier this year in support of investigations over the allegations made on multiple-time BJP MP Brij Bhushan Singh regarding sexual harassment of female wrestlers—expressed their displeasure shortly after the results were announced.

Sakshi Malik before walking out in tears said to the media on Thursday, “Yeh ladai dil se ladi (We fought this battle with our heart). In the end, we slept for 40 days on the roads but I’d like to thank the several people of our country who came to support us during the protests earlier this year. If Brij Bhushan Singh’s business partner and a close aide is elected as the president of WFI, I quit wrestling…”

“The future of wrestling is dark,” said the gold medallist Vinesh Phogat. Moreover, she added: “Now that Sanjay Singh has been elected chief of the federation, women wrestlers will continue to face harassment. The future of our wrestling career is in the dark. We do not know where to go,”. Eventually, she asserted further that she has “no clue how to find justice in the country.”




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