The ongoing protest by the wrestlers at New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar against the alleged misconduct of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh has united the sporting world with athletes cutting across disciplines and throwing their weight behind the campaign led by wrestling icons Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat.
The shooting community too has rallied behind the movement to “better Indian wrestling”, as the campaign leaders put it, and get the victims justice.
India’s only gold medallist in shooting at the Olympic Games, Abhinav Bindra, has led the shooters in the rally behind the movement. Bindra tweeted that when the country’s top wrestlers think it necessary to pause their training and take to the streets for the cause of fellow wrestlers, remedial measures are required immediately and stressed on the crying need to create a secure environment where all athletes feel safe to give their best.
As athletes, we train hard every day to represent our country on the international stage. It is deeply concerning to see our athletes finding it necessary to protest on the streets regarding the allegations of harassment in the Indian wrestling administration. My heart goes out…
— Abhinav A. Bindra OLY (@Abhinav_Bindra) April 26, 2023
Manu Bhaker also pledged her support on Twitter. Calling for appropriate action on the complaints of the wrestlers, who have brought laurels to the country but are now on the road in their quest for justice, Manu said the state of affairs deeply pained her.
I am deeply pained to see the situation of my fellow athletes (Wrestlers) who have made nation proud many times by winning medals and are now sitting on the roads to seek justice. I strongly stand with my fellow athletes and request for appropriate action on their complaints. 🙏
— Manu Bhaker🇮🇳 (@realmanubhaker) April 29, 2023
Commonwealth Games gold medallist Avneet Sidhu too urged a quick resolution of the situation and that justice be served.
Let the truth be brought out and justice ensured !!!
— Avneet Kaur Sidhu OLY (@avneet_sidhu) April 30, 2023
Former India shooter Shimon Sharif spent a significant part of Tuesday evening with the protestors and tweeted on how the nation needed to rally around the wrestlers in their hour of need.
Our wrestlers have ensured our national flag is raised and our national anthem is played on foreign soil. They have made us proud and we must support them in their hour of need. I express my solidarity with them. @Phogat_Vinesh @SakshiMalik @BajrangPunia #WrestlersProtest pic.twitter.com/7GzPQsW1KB
— Shimon Sharif (@ShimonSharif) April 30, 2023
“Not only on social media, I wanted to go in person and express my solidarity with the wrestlers. I spent a lot of time with them at the protest site and came away impressed by the unity being shown by the wrestlers. It is not easy to challenge sports federations in India which are mostly headed by politicians or someone close to a politician. They can be extremely vindictive and can choke the athletes. It’s high time the federations realise that sport belongs to the athletes and they (officials) only exist because of the toil put in by the athletes, said Sharif.