Indian Wrestling crisis took a dramatic twist on Wednesday as hundreds of young wrestlers from various parts of Northern India assembled at Jantar Mantar to protest against their senior members Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik and Vignesh Phogat. They were seen holding the banners saying, “UWW save our wrestling from these 3 wrestlers,” accusing them for the loss of one year in Indian Wrestling.
Last year, the Star Indian Wrestlers gained a huge support in their protest against Brij Bhushan Singh, then Chairman of WFI, accusing him of sexual harassment towards female wrestlers, at the same spot. But these wrestlers are facing a backlash form their juniors of their own community, blaming them for ruining their careers.
Since January 2023, all the camps and tournaments were put on hold as the WFI was suspended twice. Also, WFI elections were delayed on a number of occasions and finally held on December 21. Despite of this, Sports Ministry suspended the newly formed governing body for violating the association’s rules and formed an ad hoc committee with the help of IOA.
Wrestlers fighting to resolve the crisis in Indian Wrestling
Many young wrestlers started their protests against the 3 wrestlers at Jantar Mantar. They arrived in buses from different parts of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi. Around 300 of them belong to Arya Samaj Akhara in Chhaprauli, Baghpat while others came from Virender Wrestling Academy in Narela.
Many of them are still holding in the buses and will join others at the historical protest site. The protesters demanded to restore the suspended WFI and disband the newly formed ad hoc committee by the Sports Ministry.
Several wrestlers also seen requesting the United World Wrestling(UWW) to intervene and resolve the crisis in Indian Wrestling. UWW has earlier suspended the WFI due to prolonged protest and failing to conduct election after repeated suspensions.