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Bajrang Punia refuses to join selection trials under 'Sanjay Singh-led WFI,' moves court against selection competition

While Bajrang did not confirm filing a petition, he questioned the government's silence on the issues concerning Indian wrestling.
Last Updated 29 February 2024, 12:46 IST

"INew Delhi: Rejecting the Wrestling Federation of India's invitation to compete in the upcoming national trials, ace Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia has moved an urgent joint petition in the Delhi High Court, seeking a stay on the selection competition here on March 10-11.

It has been learnt from reliable sources that Bajrang, Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and her husband Satywart Kadiyan moved the court on Wednesday and the matter will be heard on Friday.

While Bajrang did not confirm filing a petition, he questioned the government's silence on the issues concerning Indian wrestling.

The Indian team for the Asian Wrestling Championships Olympic Qualifier in Kyrgyzstan next month will be selected on the basis of the trials at Delhi's IG Stadium.

Bajrang told PTI from Russia, where he is training for the last two months, that he has spent a fortune abroad but he won't compete in trials if they are conducted by the Sanjay Singh-led WFI.

"I would not spend Rs 30 lakh on my training if I were to not compete in the trials, but how the suspended WFI is conducting the trials? I don't get what the government's compulsion is (on allowing WFI to conduct trials)?" Bajrang said.

"I don't understand how a sports body suspended by the Indian government issue a circular and announce the trials. Why is the government silent? We will appear in the trials only if the ad-hoc panel or the government conducts it. How can a suspended body announce the trials?" he asked.

WFI president Sanjay Singh had appealed to the protesting wrestlers to forget the past and appear for the trials.

The trio had led a prolonged protest at Jantar Mantar, demanding the arrest of then WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who they had accused of sexual harassment.

Bajrang, the Tokyo Olympics bronze winner, said that not just him but Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat will also skip the trials.

"This decision to not appear in trials is a joint decision taken by us. We are together in this," he said.

PTI tried to reach out Sakshi and Vinesh for confirmation but the former did not return calls and the latter could not be contacted.

Asked specifically if they have moved court against the trials, Bajrang denied the development but a source in the WFI confirmed to PTI that four wrestlers have approached the Delhi High Court.

The United World Wrestling (UWW) had lifted the suspension on the WFI earlier this month but the government, which had also suspended the national sports federation (NSF) for flouting rules, has not yet made such a decision.

Sakshi has already announced her retirement while Vinesh, one of the most decorated Indian wrestlers, made a winning comeback to competitive wrestling by winning gold at the Nationals in Jaipur earlier this month.

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(Published 29 February 2024, 12:46 IST)

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