Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president PT Usha met the protesting wrestlers at Jantar Mantar on Wednesday. Usha was spotted engrossed in a serious discussion with the wrestlers Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik among others in the video shared by ANI. The IOA prez reaching the protest site seems to be the first step from the association to assure the grapplers of support and help in their fight for justice against WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who is accused of sexually harassing seven women wrestlers. The former Track and Field India star had earlier slammed the wrestlers for taking to the streets to protest.
Watch Usha meeting wrestlers at Jantar Mantar below:
Usha says her comments were misrepresented
Usha left without speaking with the media but Bajrang Punia said she has assured them help. “Initially when she said that, we felt very bad but then she said that her comments were misinterpreted. She said that she is first an athlete and then an administrator,” said Bajrang, the Tokyo Games bronze medallist, as per PTI. “We told her that we want justice. We don’t have a fight with the government or opposition or anyone else. We are sitting here for the betterment of wrestling. If this issue is resolved and if the allegations (against WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh) are proved then there should be legal action,” he added. When asked if Usha had come with a solution from the government or from the IOA, Punia said, “Nothing of that sort”.
What had PT Usha said earlier?
Usha had said that wrestlers’ act (to protest at Jantar Mantar) amounted to indiscipline and tarnished the image of the country abroad. She had said, “This amounts to gross indiscipline and tarnishing the image of the country. It sets a bad precedent. Instead of hitting IOA’s Athletes Commission. The commission is headed by MC Mary Kom as chairperson and Achanta Sharath Kamal as vice chairperson.”
Also Read | Wrestlers Paying Lakhs For Basic Needs At Protest Site To Keep Fight Against WFI Chief Going
Response from wrestlers to Usha
Sakshi and Vinesh, who the faces of the protest, had slammed Usha for making such an insensitive comment. Sakshi said that if former athletes could not suppor them, it was a matter of shame. “We are much better than people like PT Usha and Mary Kom. If former athletes such as them can’t support us, it’s a matter of shame. Such adversities give us strength. We don’t want them to sit here with us. We just want them to be truthful and support us. We have already sacrificed our training and sport. But this cause is bigger than all, said Olympic medallist from Rio 2016.
Vinesh said that she expected Usha to stand with her fellow female athletes during this tough time. She added that as citizens of the country, they had every right to protest against a wrongdoing. “Hum road pe nahin hain. Hum apne desh ki zameen pe hain. Yeh hamaara adhikaar hai (We’re not on the streets. We’re on the land of our country. This is our right). As citizens of a democratic nation, it is our right to protest. Until we get justice, we’ll stay here,” Vines had said.