Bajrang Punia refuses to appear in selection trials
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Ishika Kumar, Pune

Rejecting the Wrestling Federation of India’s invitation to compete in the upcoming national trials, top Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia has moved an urgent joint petition in the Delhi High Court, seeking a stay on the selection competition on March 10 and 11. It has been learnt from reliable sources that Bajrang, Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, and her husband Satywart Kadian moved the court on Wednesday and the matter will be heard on Friday. Sanjay Singh, WFI president, had appealed to the protesting wrestlers to attend trials, following their Jantar Mantar protest on sexual harassment allegations on the then WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. 

PTI attempted to contact Sakshi and Vinesh, but no response was received. Bajrang denied court actions and did not confirm filing the petition, but a WFI source confirmed four wrestlers approached the Delhi High Court. The United World Wrestling (UWW) lifted WFI’s suspension, but the government’s decision on the National Sports Federation (NSF) remains pending.

Bajrang Punia 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 based on the trials which will be held at Delhi’s IG Stadium. Bajrang told the PTI; from Russia, where he was training for the last two months and that, he has spent a fortune abroad for it but won’t compete in trials at any cost if the Sanjay Singh-led WFI conducts them.

He made himself clear on the stance and explained that he would not have spent Rs 30 lakh on his training if he did not compete in the trials, but the question he raised was, how is the suspended WFI conducting the trials? He does not understand what the government’s compulsion is regarding this (on allowing WFI to conduct trials). Bajrang is determined about this condition to participate in the selection trials.

Valid concerns like, how a sports body suspended by the Indian government issues a circular and announces the trials. Why is the government silent? Were raised. They will all appear in the trials only if the ad-hoc panel or the government conducts the trials.