PT Usha slams protesting wrestlers for ‘tarnishing India’s image’; ‘didn’t expect a harsh response from IOA’, says Bajrang Punia

The ongoing public protest by wrestlers alleging sexual harassment by Wrestling Federation India boss Brijbhushan Sharan Singh has been strongly criticized by PT Usha, the chief of Indian Olympic Association. Despite the allegations, Singh, who is also a BJP MP, has denied any wrongdoing and stated his intention to vigorously defend himself against the accusations.

Protest amounts to indiscipline, says PT Usha

In contrast, Usha expressed her disapproval of the wrestlers’ decision to stage a public protest in Delhi before the committee investigating their allegations released its report.

The ace sprinter said the protest “amounts to indiscipline”.

“Wrestlers staging protests on the streets amounts to indiscipline. It is tarnishing the image of India,” Usha, who is also a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha, told reporters after the IOA’s Executive Committee meeting.

Wrestlers respond

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

Rio Games bronze medalist Sakshi Malik reacted strongly to the comments made by Usha.

“Being a woman athlete, she (PT Usha) isn’t listening to other women athletes. Where’s the indiscipline here, we are sitting here peacefully…She herself cried in front of the media regarding her academy,” Malik was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

The Sports Minister, Anurag Thakur, established a committee to investigate the allegations against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and its chief, Brijbhushan Sharan Singh. The six-member committee was instructed to present its findings to the Youth Affairs and Sports Ministry, which it did on April 5th. However, despite receiving the report, the ministry has not released its conclusions to the public.

Modi government very clear about standing with the players: Thakur

Thakur, speaking to reporters on Thursday, said: “The Narendra Modi government has done excellent work for sportspersons in the country. The government spends a lot to help sportspersons. Some 3,000 players get ₹ 5 lakh for their boarding, lodging, and training. They also get ₹ 1.20 lakh for personal expenses.”

“Some wrestlers were sitting at Jantar Mantar (in Delhi). Who spoke to them? I left all my programs in Himachal Pradesh and heard them for 12 hours. Seven hours one day, over five hours the next day. We did a press conference late at night. We made a committee… The Narendra Modi government is very clear about standing with the players and helping them. For us, the priorities are the sports and the players. We won’t compromise with them,” Thakur went on to add.

Sakshi reminds PM of ‘Beti Bachao’ and ‘Beti Padhao’

Earlier, speaking to reporters at the protest site in Delhi’s capital, Sakshi Malik said: “PM Modi sir talks about ‘Beti Bachao’ and ‘Beti Padhao’ and listens to everyone’s ‘Mann ki Baat. Can’t he listen to our ‘Mann ki Baat? He invites us to his home when we win medals, gives us a lot of respect, and calls us his daughters. Today, we appeal to him to listen to our ‘Mann ki Baat.”

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