'Is There No Other Place To Host Nationals?': Sakshi Malik Objects To Tournament Being Held In Brij Bhushan Singh's Gonda

'Is There No Other Place To Host Nationals?': Sakshi Malik Objects To Tournament Being Held In Brij Bhushan Singh's Gonda

The dates for under-15 and under-20 national events were announced today following the election of Sanjay Singh as the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president on Thursday.

ANIUpdated: Saturday, December 23, 2023, 10:52 PM IST
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Former Indian wrestler and Olympic medalist Sakshi Malik expressed disappointment at the venue selection of junior nationals, which will take place in Gonda, Uttar Pradesh from December 28 onwards.

The dates for under-15 and under-20 national events were announced today following the election of Sanjay Singh as the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president on Thursday.

Sakshi questioned why nationals were taking place in Gonda, a district she referred to as the "area of Brijbhushan". Brij Bhushan is notably, from Gonda in Uttar Pradesh.

"I have given up wrestling but I am worried since last night about those junior women wrestlers who are calling me and telling me that the junior nationals are going to be held from 28th and the new wrestling federation has decided to hold it in Nandani Nagar, Gonda. Gonda is the area of Brijbhushan. Now imagine in what circumstances the junior women wrestlers will go there to wrestle. Is there no other place in this country to host nationals other than Nandani Nagar?," tweeted Sakshi on her X (formerly Twitter) account.

After the election of Sanjay Singh as WFI president, Brij Bhushan had announced to the media on Saturday the dates of under-15 and under-20 nationals.
"Because of some issues, national or state level wrestling events were paused in the country for 11 months...We have announced to hold Under-15 and Under-20 wrestling events from 28th December to 31st December...If these tournaments are not organised within 31st, one complete year of the wrestlers will be affected," Brij Bhushan told the media.

Sanjay Singh won WFI Chief Election for 40 votes

The Wrestling Federation of India elections were held on Thursday, December 21, after several postponements earlier in the year. The vote took place earlier in the day in New Delhi, and the counting began soon after.

A panel of Sanjay Singh won the WFI election by 40 votes while the other panel got 7 votes.

Sanjay served on the WFI's previous executive council. Since 2019, he has also served as the national federation's joint secretary.

The WFI elections were originally slated to be held on August 12. However, the Punjab and Haryana High Court, while holding a hearing on a petition in August, extended the stay on the WFI elections till September 25.

Elections to the federation, which oversees wrestling in the country, were initially planned for June this year.

Protesting wrestlers met Sports Minister Anurag Thakur earlier this year

Earlier, this month, Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik met Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur at his residence in the national capital for discussions on the WFI polls.

Sakshi's husband Satyawart Kadian, a wrestler himself, was also among those who called on the minister. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the wrestlers said they were assured that the government would keep its promise that no one related or close to Brij Bhushan would get a post in the WFI.

As the results are out the press conference is to be held by star wrestlers and Olympic medallists Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik, who earlier came out against the now-deposed WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, accusing him of sexual harassment.

Sanjay Singh as WFI chief not welcomed by wrestlers

But Sanjay's election was not received well by ace wrestlers Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat, who expressed their disappointment with the result.

Olympic medalist Sakshi Malik, who was a face of wrestlers' protest against former WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh over sexual harassment allegations, on Thursday announced that she is quitting wrestling after his aide Sanjay Singh was elected president of the federation.

Sakshi Malik, distraught and emotional, broke down as she left the venue after addressing a press conference in the national capital.

She put her shoes on the table at the press conference as she announced her decision to quit wrestling.

"We slept for 40 days on the roads and a lot of people from several parts of the country came to support us. If Brij Bhushan Singh's business partner and a close aide is elected as the president of WFI, I quit wrestling," she said, accompanied by some other wrestlers who were part of the protest.

Vinesh Phogot breaks down

Vinesh Phogat, World Championships and Asian Games medallist, also expressed her deep disappointment and said that the future of wrestling is dark and grapplers are still fighting.

"There are minimal expectations but we hope that we get justice. It's saddening that the future of wrestling is in the dark. To whom shall we convey our grief?... We are still fighting while we are training," she said.

Punia on Friday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that he is returning his Padma Shri as a mark of protest over the results of the recent Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) elections.

Punia shared a detailed post on X, stating, "I am returning my Padma Shri award to the Prime Minister. All I have to say is in this letter; this is my statement."

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