30 Dec 2023

Vinesh Phogat Takes A Stand: Leaves Khel Ratna And Arjuna Awards On Kartavya Path


In a bold move, renowned wrestler Vinesh Phogat, having recently declared her intent to relinquish the prestigious Khel Ratna and Arjuna awards to the Prime Minister Modi, left the accolades on the Kartavya Path pavement in New Delhi.

Despite initially heading towards the Prime Minister’s Office with the awards, Vinesh was halted by the police, leading to a poignant moment where the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games Gold medalist chose to leave the revered awards on the sidewalk.

Vinesh's decision to return the awards stems from her protest against the election of Sanjay Singh, a staunch supporter of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, as the president of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).

Vinesh was conferred with the Khel Ratna in 2020 while she received the Arjuna Award in 2016.

Sanjay Singh was elected as WFI's chief last week. He is an ally of Brij Bhushan Singh Sharan and the wrestlers did not want any one close to the BJP MP entering the national federation.

Brij Bhushan was accused of sexual harassment of several women wrestlers by Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik. They had held a long drawn protest at Jantar Mantar early this year.

Vinesh Phogat had conveyed her disappointment to Prime Minister Narendra Modi through an open letter, expressing her dissatisfaction with the recent developments, including the election of Sanjay Singh as the new president of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI). In her letter, Vinesh Phogat stated her decision to return both the Arjuna and Khel Ratna Awards as a gesture of protest against the perceived lack of justice for female wrestlers.

Bajrang Punia took a similar stand by returning Padma Shri Award

Adding to the dissent, Bajrang Punia took a similar stand by returning his Padma Shri Award. In a symbolic act of protest, he left the award on the Kartavya Path pavement earlier in the month. Meanwhile, Sakshi Malik chose a different path, announcing her retirement in protest against the newly-elected WFI panel. This emotional decision was communicated through a teary-eyed press conference held in the capital city in December.

In a message shared on social media, Bajrang Punia emphasized the challenging situation faced by women wrestlers in the country, expressing the hope that such a day of disappointment does not occur in the life of any athlete. This statement was made on Saturday and was posted on X, previously known as Twitter.

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