'Ab Mujhe Ghinn Ayegi': Wrestler Bajrang Punia Returns Padma Shri Award, Tells PM Modi He Cannot Live With This 'Respect' Bajrang Punia to return his Padma Shri. (Source: X/ANI)

Bajrang Punia, Olympic medallist and face of the Wrestlers Protest, returned his Padma Shri award to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday. In a letter to the PM posted on social media website X (formerly Twitter), Bajrang said that he cannot live the ‘respect’ given by the government of India at a time when women wrestlers have been insulted. Bajrang’s decision to return the medal has come a day after Sanjay Singh was eleced as the chairman of the Wreslting Federation of India (WFI). Sanjay happens to be a close aide of the former WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, whom the female wrestlers had accused of sexual harassment among other things.

Also Read | Sakshi Malik Announces Retirement After Sanjay Singh Becomes WFI Chief

The wrestlers protest had started in January and Bajrang mentioned the timeline of the events that unfolded when they first began the sit-in. The bronze medal winner from Tokyo Olympics 2021 wrote that despite many promises made to them by sports minister and home minister, nothing was done to stop Brij Bhushan from staying relevant in India’s wrestling.

Bajrang also told the PM via the letter than the police did not even write an FIR against Brij Bhushan and that they had to knock the doors of the courts in India to get it done. The male wrestler said that he jumped in to the protest thinking justice will be served soon but nothing of that sort happened. He said that protesting wrestlers had returned home when the government had reached out to them, promising support but even an FIR was not registered against the accused for three months. 

___ ____ ________ ________ ____________ __ __ ____ ____ ___ ___. ____ __ ___ __ ____ __ ____ __. ___ ____ _________ ___ __ pic.twitter.com/PYfA9KhUg9
— Bajrang Punia __ (@BajrangPunia) December 22, 2023

Bajrang wrote that the numbers of the those who had accused Brij Bhushan of misconduct came down to 7 today from 19 in January this year as Brij Bhushan used his power to instill fear in their hearts.

On Thursday, the same day Sanjy Singh became the new WFI president, Bajrang along with female wrestlers Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat organised a press conference in Delhi. While speaking to the media, Rio Olympics medallist Sakshi announced her retirement and put her wrestling boots on the table after which she started to cry inconsolably.

The wrestlers are upset with Brij Bhushan’s close aide coming into the power. Right after Sanjay became the new president, Brij Bhushan commented, “Dabdaba Tha,,,Dabdaba Rahega (There was dominance and there will be dominance).” Bajrang brought the same comment in his letter to PM, underlining that the same man continues to rule wrestling in India despite change of guards.

In the end of the letter, Bajrang said he cannot live with the respect given to him in form of Padma Shri when the female wrestlers are receiving insult for the last one year. We ‘respected’ wrestlers could not not do anything when the daughters (female wrestlers), who were supposed to be the brand ambassadors of the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, were pushed back. I cannot live with this respect all my life,” wrote Bajrang.

Read More