We did not ask for exemption from trials, will quit wrestling if proved: Bajrang

PTI, Jun 25, 2023, 9:12 AM IST

Image credit: PTI

New Delhi: Facing opposition from fellow grapplers for receiving an exemption from Asian Games trials, the protesting wrestlers on Saturday denied demanding such a favour from the IOA ad-hoc panel and said they would quit wrestling if it was proved.

London Olympic bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutt had on Friday questioned the ad-hoc panel’s decision and asked if these wrestlers were agitating against the outgoing WFI chief to get such favours.

He had also exhorted the junior wrestlers, their coaches and their parents to raise their voices against this injustice.

Dutt had also levelled some other allegations and the trio of Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat addressed their followers on social media, responding to the comments made by the former wrestler and now a BJP leader.

“We did not ask for an exemption from trials, just asked for time to prepare,” said Sakshi Malik.

“We didn’t take away anybody’s rights. We had just asked for time as we have been away from wrestling for six months, but you are spreading wrong information,” Malik, the 2016 Rio Olympics bronze medallist, said.

Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Bajrang said they will quit wrestling if it is proved that they had asked for just one-bout trial for the Asian Games and World Championships.

“If you had problems about one-trial bout, you should have approached the sports minister and asked on what basis they are taking the trials. But you chose to spread poison through social media,” he said.

“We are ready to quit wrestling if it is proved that we asked for an exemption. We never wrote any letter for exemption. If our elders feel that we have done anything wrong. We will quit.”

However, none of the three wrestlers said if they are willing to compete in the full draw and will not accept direct entry into the final.

It has been learnt that it was Gian Singh and Ashok Garg, the two coaches who were added to the ad-hoc panel, who had sought exemption from trials for six wrestlers.

Both Gian Singh and Ashok Garg were with the wrestlers at Jantar Mantar during their protest.

Sakshi asked Dutt to refrain from spreading the wrong message that the six wrestlers “just wanted to win and participate in one trial.”

“In our life, we have never gone without any trials and never ever deprived any junior,” she said.

Apart from this trio, Bajrang’s wife Sangeeta Phogat, Sakshi’s husband Satywart Kadian and Jitender Kinha were given exemption.

Dutt had posted a Twitter video on Friday, questioning the logic and criteria behind the decision.

After Dutt’s tweet, Vinesh had slammed Dutt, saying that the wrestling world will remember him for being a spineless lackey of Brij Bhushan.

Dutt was one of the six members of the oversight panel formed by the government to probe the sexual harassment allegations against Singh.

Bajrang also alleged that Dutt had participated in the 2015 World Championships despite being not fit and it amounted to betrayal.

“In 2015, you (Dutt) betrayed the nation. I have proof of that. You had gone for an ACL surgery just one month before the World Championships. The second person was Amit Dhankar. He could have qualified but due to your injury you neither played the tournament nor did you provide your weight (category).”

Dutt was forced to pull out of the 2015 Wrestling World Championships in the USA after being found unfit at the eleventh hour, leaving the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) red-faced.

This remark was in response to Dutt’ allegation that Vinesh had pulled out of the Indoor Asian Games at the last minute.

Dutt had said she had got a spot on the Indian team without appearing and trials but later chose not to compete, ending India’s medal chances in that weight category.

Dutt had also alleged that Vinesh had got her husband’s relative Om Prakash Dahiya a hefty Rs 25 lakh prize money from the Haryana government though it was her real coach Mahabir Phogat who deserved the cash reward.

Responding to that Vinesh said, “You made a mistake. The amount was Rs 35 lakh. He deserved it because he trained me and worked hard. He is Dronacharya (Lifetime) awardee, he had trained more than 100 wrestlers.” Vinesh also said she did no wrong by getting a posting of her choice. “It was just a posting not Prime Ministership,” she said.

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