Wrestlers Refute Anurag Thakur’s Claims

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Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia (Twitter)

Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia (Twitter)

Protesting wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik have refuted Anurag Malik and PT Usha’s claims

Protesting Wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik have refuted Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur and legendary Indian sprinter and IOA president PT Usha’s claims. Earlier in the day, Thakur in his press conference in Shimla had said that spent ’12 hours’ with protesting athletes however, Bajrang stated that the sports minister was with them for a few minutes.

Phogat further alleged that the protesting wrestlers felt intimidated during these meetings with Thakur and Sakshi Malik hit back at PT Usha’s claims that the protesting wrestlers were causing ‘Indiscipline’ in the nation’s capital.

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Addressing the reporters from Jantar Mantar, Punia said outright refuted Thakur’s claims that he spent ample time with wrestlers.

“The sports minister is saying that he spoke to the players for 12 hours. Once ask the Sports Minister for how long you were sitting among the players. He sat for 2-4 minutes with the players. His officials were mediating with the players,” said the Olympic bronze medalist.

“She herself was an athlete and she is also a woman. We did not expect this harsh reaction from her, we expected support,” added Punia.

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“If IOA thinks wrestlers demanding justice is tarnishing the image of the country, what was that when she broke down and explained her plight after being harassed by a few goons at her academy. What had happened then,” questioned Bajrang.

The top wrestler was referring to Usha breaking down during a press conference in February this year when she spoke about harassment at her academy in Balussery, Kerala.

Phogat further alleged that the sports minister didn’t even spend 12 minutes with the protesting wrestlers and said that they felt intimidated during the meetings to find a common resolve.

ALSO READ| Wrestlers Protesting on Streets Tarnishing India’s Image, Amounts to Indiscipline: IOA President PT Usha

Earlier, Thakur had addressed the media saying that they gave enough chances to all wrestlers to present their case to the oversight committee.

“A few wrestlers are sitting in protest at Jantar Mantar. I have spent 12 hours with them — seven hours on the first day and five hours the next day (in January). I had listened to all their grievances, held a press conference at 2-2.30 at night, and formed a committee after talking to them,” Thakur said.

Furthermore, legendary Indian sprint PT Usha got a stern reply from Sakshi, the Olympic bronze medalist who said the wrestlers were not causing any form of indiscipline.

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“Being a woman athlete, she (PT Usha) isn’t listening to other women athletes. Where’s indiscipline here, we are sitting here peacefully…She herself cried in front of the media regarding her academy,” Malik hit back.

“Wrestlers staging protest on streets amounts to indiscipline. It is tarnishing the image of India,” Usha told reporters after IOA’s Executive Committee meeting.

The IOA also instituted a three-member ad-hoc panel, including former shooter Suma Shirur, Wushu Association of India chief Bhupendra Singh Bajwa and headed by a yet-to-be-named retired high court judge, to run the affairs of the WFI until a new body is elected.

Punia, Phogat and Malik are three central characters leading protests against WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

With Inputs from PTI

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