Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik has criticized legendary Indian sportspersons PT Usha and Mary Kom for their silence on the issue of sexual harassment allegations made by female wrestlers against former Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
Speaking at the Mathrubhumi International Festival of Letters (MBIFL) 2024 in Thiruvananthapuram, Malik expressed her disappointment with the two iconic athletes, whom she considers inspirations for Indian sportspersons. Sakshi Malik, who retired in December as a protest against Sanjay Singh’s election as the new WFI president, accused Usha and Mary Kom of failing to support the protesting wrestlers despite their assurances.
Malik revealed that PT Usha had visited the protest venue, where the wrestlers detailed their issues as she said “PT Usha madam had visited our protest venue. We told her in detail about our issues. She could have supported us. But she remained silent despite assuring us that she would stand by us and extend all help.”
However, Malik criticized Usha for remaining silent and not taking any action to address the problems faced by the female wrestlers.
Similarly, Mary Kom, a six-time world champion and Olympic bronze medallist in boxing, also faced criticism from Malik. According to Malik, Mary Kom became emotional after hearing the stories of the female wrestlers’ ordeal and expressed her sympathy.
However, Malik laments that despite Mary Kom’s emotional response, she did not speak out or take any action to support the protesting wrestlers as she states “After listening to the stories, she became very emotional like I am sorry feel so bad she also said she would stand by us. “Even she didn’t speak for us and remained silent,”. This lead to disappointment among the wrestling community.
The background of the controversy involves prominent Indian wrestlers like Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, and Sakshi Malik staging a sit-in protest in New Delhi, demanding the arrest of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, whom they accused of sexual harassment against female grapplers.
Sakshi Malik’s decision to retire as a form of protest against the new WFI president indicates the gravity of the situation and the frustration among the wrestling community regarding the lack of action against individuals accused of misconduct.