‘She herself cried…’: Wrestlers respond to PT Usha’s ‘tarnishing India’s image’ remark

28 April, 2023 | Vaishali Sharma

protesting wrestlers National

Wrestler Bajrang Punia said on Thursday that the protesters did not expect such a harsh reaction from the IOA president. Vinesh Phogat also called Usha's comments as "insensitive".

Wrestler Bajrang Punia said on Thursday that the protesters did not expect such a harsh reaction from Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president PT Usha, who claimed that grapplers protesting on the streets over sexual harassment allegations against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh “amounted to indiscipline.”

Earlier, PT Usha said on Thursday that the wrestlers should have approached the IOA earlier instead of going out in the streets against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and its president Brijbhushan Sharan Singh, who the wrestlers accused of sexual harassment and mismanagement of athletes.

“Indian Olympic Association (IOA) is having a committee for sexual harassment, instead of going to the streets they (protesting wrestlers) could have come to us earlier but they did not come to IOA. It is not good for sports not only for wrestlers, they should also have some discipline,” said Usha to the media.

Responding to Usha’s remarks, Punia told PTI, “We did not expect such a harsh response from IOA President PT Usha, we expected support from her.”

Bajrang Punia, the Olympic medalist also said, “You feel sad when she says these things because she is the IOA Chief and a woman herself, she cried for her academy in front of the media. She wants us to approach IOA, but we went there three months back, but no justice was given.”

“Being a woman athlete, she (PT Usha) is not listening to other women athletes. We have followed her since childhood and got inspired by her. Where is indiscipline here, we are sitting here peacefully..” Sakshi Malik told mediapersons.

Vinesh Phogat, the CWG and World Championships medalist also called Usha’s comments as “insensitive”.

“We live as per the constitution and are independent citizens. We can go anywhere. If we are sitting out in the streets, there must be some reason, a reason that nobody listened to us, be it IOA or Sports Ministry. Her saying this is insensitive. I even called her, but she did not pick up my phone,” said Vinesh.

Wrestlers began protesting in January, accusing the WFI chief of sexual harassment and intimidation. They resumed their protests last week at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, demanding that an FIR be filed against Sharan and that police conduct a thorough investigation.