WFI setback, wrestler Bajrang Punia returns Padma Shri : The Tribune India

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WFI setback, wrestler Bajrang Punia returns Padma Shri

WFI setback, wrestler Bajrang Punia returns Padma Shri

Wrestler Bajrang Punia holds his Padma Shri award near Kartavya Path in New Delhi on Friday. PTI



Tribune News Service

Vinayak Padmadeo

New Delhi, December 22

The show of strength from BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and his supporters after his loyalist Sanjay Singh became Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief has forced another wrestler’s hand.

Editorial: WFI poll charade: Tainted ex-chief will continue to call the shots

Wrestler stopped near PMO

  • Bajrang Punia wanted to return the medal to PM Modi, but was stopped by the Delhi Police
  • Left Padma Shri medal & a letter addressed to the PM on a pavement at Kartavya Path

System worked for Bhushan

When we started our protest, there were 19 complainants. By the time the FIRs were filed, we were left with seven. The system worked for Brij Bhushan. It almost feels like there is no democracy in the country. Bajrang Punia

After India’s only woman Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik announced her retirement on Thursday, it was the turn of Tokyo bronze medal winner Bajrang Punia to do the unthinkable as he left his Padma Shri medallion along with a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a pavement at Kartavya Path.

Punia, who had announced his intention to return the award on X, was stopped from approaching the Prime Minister’s Office by the police. When he tried to reason, he was told that he would be detained. After spending a few minutes, he left the area after keeping the Padma Shri award on the footpath.

The medallion is in the safe custody of the Delhi Police.

Speaking to The Tribune over phone, Punia said the Union Government did not fulfil its promises and that the WFI results showed that Brij Bhushan was more powerful than the ruling party itself.

“The Sports Minister had (in January) announced that neither he (Brij Bhushan) nor any of his associate or family member would be part of the new body, but we saw the results,” Punia said.

“He was seen on TV proclaiming ‘dabdaba hai, dabada rahega’ (I am powerful and will remain powerful). To me, it felt that now he is more powerful than his party (BJP),” he added.

Punia was also disheartened with the way the protesting wrestlers were treated on the entire issue. Although he made it clear he had not given a thought to retirement, he claimed he was forced into taking the drastic measure of returning the award.

“When we were starting this fight to get justice for our daughters and sisters, my mother told me not to back out ever. When we started, there were 19 complainants. By the time the FIRs were filed, we were left with seven. The system worked for Brij Bhushan. It almost feels like there is no democracy in the country,” he said. In the letter that he released on his social media page, Punia, who has won four World Championship medals, said he was hurt to see people like Sakshi leaving the sport for fear of reprisals. “…In 2019, I was awarded the Padma Shri. I was honoured with Khel Ratna and Arjuna Award as well. I was very happy, I felt I have achieved a lot in this career. But today I am very sad as these same awards are pinching me... now fellow women wrestlers are being forced to leave the sport fearing for their safety,” he wrote.

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#Bajrang Punia #BJP #Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh


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