IOA chief PT Usha meets protesting wrestlers at Jantar Mantar, offers help

M Sudharshan

May 3 2023
PT Usha Wrestlers' Protest

The legendary Indian athlete visited the site almost a week after her controversial statement.

Days after criticising them for “gross indiscipline” and for “tarnishing the country’s image”, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president, PT Usha, on May 2 (Wednesday) met the protesting wrestlers offering them help and support.

Usha, a legendary Indian athlete, had last week come down heavily on the wrestlers for resuming their protest instead of approaching the IOA to resolve their issues. She had accused wrestlers of showing indiscipline by hitting the streets, for which she was heavily slammed.

While PT Usha did not reveal the purpose of her visit, Bajrang Punia said she assured the wrestlers of help. “She told us that ‘I’m standing with you, and I will help you get justice’. She assured us that she will do everything she can to help us. We told her that we want justice. We are not fighting against the government or anybody else, we do not have connections with any (political) party or opposition, we are sitting here only for wrestling.”

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Usha had invited criticism for insensitivity after her comments on the wrestlers despite being an athlete. Last week, following the IOA’s Executive Committee meeting, she told reporters “Thoda toh discipline hona chahiye (they should maintain some discipline). Instead of hitting the streets, the wrestlers should have come to the IOA’s Athletes Commission.”

“We respect her. She is a great athlete. Der Aaye Durust Aaye (Better late than never),” he added. Bajrang also said that the wrestlers will continue protesting until the arrest of WFI (Wrestling Federation of India) chief and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who the wrestlers have accused of sexually harassing several women wrestlers, including a minor.

Last week, the DelhI Police had registered two FIRs against Singh after a directive from the Supreme Court, where the wrestlers had filed a plea. The Police filed two FIRs, including one POCSO charge relating to sexual offences against a minor.

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