The United World Wrestling (UWW) issued a statement condemning the detention of the country's top wrestlers on Tuesday, May 30. In its statement, the global wrestling body said that if the Wrestling Federation of India does not hold elections within 45 days, UWW will suspend India.
"For several months, United World Wrestling has followed with great concern the situation in India where wrestlers are protesting over allegations of abuse and harassment by the president of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI)," UWW said in a statement.
"It has taken due note that the WFI President has been put aside at an early stage and is currently not in charge," the UWW statement said.
The wrestling body also expressed its disappointment over the lack of any concrete results from the ongoing investigation in the matter of allegations made against the WFI chief and BJP leader Brij Bhushan Singh. Country's ace wrestlers Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, and Bajrang Punia are seeking Singh's arrest.
Earlier, in a letter addressed to the public of India, Olympic medallist Bajrang Punia had announced that he, alongside fellow Olympic medal winners Sakshi Malik and World Championship medal winner Vinesh Phogat will immerse their medals in the Ganga river in Haridwar on May 30, 2023.
The protesting wrestlers said that the decision to immerse their medals was taken in the wake of the action taken by the Delhi Police against the wrestlers. The wrestlers were manhandled and later detained after they attempted to reach the new parliament building.
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Following their announcement, wrestlers reached Haridwar on the banks of the Ganga river. However, after multiple appeals from leaders like Randeep Hooda of the Indian National Congress and farm leader Naresh Tikait were made, the wrestlers decided to postpone the immersion of medals.
Farmer leader Naresh Tikait arrived in Haridwar, where the wrestlers had gathered to immerse their medals and took the medals from the wrestlers as he told them not to immerse them. Tikait asked wrestlers to wait for five more days.
Here is the full text of UWW's statement:
For several months, United World Wrestling has followed with great concern the situation in India where wrestlers are protesting over allegations of abuse and harassment by the President of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI). It has taken due note that the WFI President has been put aside at an early stage and is currently not in charge.
The events of these last days are even more worrying that the wrestlers were arrested and temporarily detained by the police for initiating a march of protest. The site where they had been protesting for more than a month has also been cleared out by the authorities.
UWW firmly condemns the treatment and detention of the wrestlers. It expresses its disappointment over the lack of results of the investigations so far. UWW urges the relevant authorities to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the allegations.
As it has already done since the beginning of this situation, UWW will hold a meeting with the wrestlers to inquire about their condition and safety and reconfirm our support for a fair and just resolution of their concerns.
Finally, UWW will request further information about the next elective general assembly from the IOA and the Ad-hoc Committee of the WFI. The 45-day deadline that was initially set to hold this elective assembly shall be respected. Failing to do so may lead UWW to suspend the federation, thereby forcing the athletes to compete under a neutral flag. It is reminded that UWW already took a measure in this situation by reallocating the Asian Championship planned in New Delhi earlier this year.