“Will have no glory till sisters, daughters get justice”: Bajrang Punia takes back Padma Shri

Olympic medalist Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia said on Sunday that he will not take back his Padma Shri award, which he returned to the government, until justice is given to his “sisters and daughters” who are fighting against sexual harassment and their perpetrators. Bajrang’s tweet comes after a major decision in the face of fresh protests by star wrestlers Sakshi Malik and Punia over the selection of an aide of ousted Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) former president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh as the new president of the wrestling federation.

However, the Union Sports Ministry on Sunday suspended the sport’s premier governing body in the country along with all its officials.

“We trust in God only, I returned my Padma Shri award to my sisters and daughters; I returned it for their honor and I don’t want any honor until they get justice. Jai Hind,” Bajrang tweeted.

The decision came close on the heels of newly elected WFI president Sanjay Singh announcing the hosting of the U-15 and U-20 nationals at Nandini Nagar in Gonda district of Uttar Pradesh before the end of the year.

Also, the Union Sports Ministry on Sunday directed the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to form an ad hoc committee to manage and control affairs of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), according to a ministry source.

Earlier, Olympian Sakshi Malik announced her retirement from wrestling at an emotional press briefing, claiming that the Center was going back on its word not to install an aide of Brij Bhushan as an official in the wrestling federation.

Later, when he expressed his misgivings about the selection of Sanjay Singh as the new WFI chief, Olympian Bajrang Punia returned his Padma Shri in protest.

The star wrestlers earlier led a protest by wrestlers who came out against Brij Bhushan and accused him of sexual harassment.

“This announcement is hasty, without giving sufficient notice to wrestlers who will participate in the said nationals and without following the provisions of the WFI Constitution. According to clause 3 (e) of the preamble of the WFI Constitution, the purpose of the WFI, among others, is to arrange holding of senior, junior and sub-junior national championships as per UWW rules at venues selected by the executive committee,” the sports ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

“Such decisions shall be made by the Executive Committee for which agendas shall be tabled. Pursuant to Article XI of the WFI Constitution under the heading “Convocations and Quorum for Meetings”, the minimum notice period for EC meetings is 15 clear days and the quorum is 1 /3 of the representatives. Even for emergencies in EC meetings, the minimum notice period is 7 clear days with a quorum requirement of 1/3 of the representatives,” the ministry added.

“Furthermore, according to Article X (d) of the WFI Constitution, it is the General Secretary of the WFI who has been made responsible for carrying out the general duties of the Federation, keeping the minutes of the meetings and maintaining all the records of the Federation, and convening the meetings of the General Council and the Executive Committee. It appears that the General Secretary was not involved in the said meeting of the EC which was held without any notice or quorum,” it further said.

“The decisions taken by the newly elected executive body of the WFI demonstrate a flagrant disregard of the established legal and procedural norms, violating both the constitutional provisions of the WFI and the National Sports Development Code. The newly elected body appeared to have complete control over the former officials in complete disregard of the sports law .The association’s business is run from the premises controlled by former officials,” the ministry added.

(With the exception of the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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