Vinesh Phogat also claimed sexual harassment against female wrestlers.

Leading Indian wrestlers have united to voice their irritation against the governing body of wrestling in the country by organizing a dharna at Jantar Mantar on Wednesday. 

The top guns of Indian wrestling who have won medals in the Olympics and World Championships, Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, and Anshu Malik are all seen expressing their grudge against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).

They claimed that the federation has passed arbitrary laws and regulations which are detrimental to the wrestlers. 

“Sportspersons work hard to win medals for the country, but the Federation has done nothing but let us down. Players are being harassed by imposing arbitrary laws,” wrote Bajrang Punia in a tweet criticizing the WFI.

The federation faces allegations of nepotism, favoritism and mismanagement of power under its current president, Brij Bushan Singh.

“We are here to raise the issue of wrestlers who have no voice when it comes to decision making. Wrestler have suffered for long silently but now we have decided that we won’t stay quiet anymore against unilateral decisions being taken by the Wrestling Federation of India. All of India’s top wrestlers won’t participate in national or international meets till our demands are met and we are treated better by the Wrestling Federation of India. Wrestlers here have a request to the prime minister’s office and the home minister’s office to help us and help the sport,” said the visibly agitated Olympian. 

In a caustic statement, Punia also didn’t hold back from calling the management “tanashahi” (dictatorship). 

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Vinesh Phogat, India’s first female wrestler to clinch gold in Asian Games and Commonwealth Games, took to social media to write, “The player wants self-respect and prepares for the Olympics and big games with full vigor, but if the federation does not support them, the morale breaks down. But now we will not bow down. Will fight for our rights.”

An anonymous WFI spokesman said, “We are not aware they were going to protest. It might be due to the fact that wrestlers have to take part in trials to select the team for the world championships.” 

Vinesh Phogat went on to make an explosive claim that the female athletes are victims of sexual harassment in the hands of the coaches.

“Coaches are harassing women, and some coaches who are favorites of the federation misbehave with women coaches as well. They sexually harass girls. The WFI president has sexually harassed so many girls,” said the champion wrestler.

However, the president has outright denied any such accusation, going to extent of saying, ” If such a thing has happened, then I will hang myself.”

The fiasco, which opened with players not getting their rights, is growing like a snowball tumbling down. Fans of the sport are demanding a thorough enquiry into the matter.

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