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Wrestlers protest: ‘Dismayed’ Kumble and ‘saddened’ Uthappa ask for a quick solution


Few cricketers, like Anil Kumble and Robin Uthappa, have publicly expressed their outrage about notable Indian wrestlers being “manhandled” by the police in Delhi, India’s capital.

Kumble expressed his shock at the events that took place on May 28 when our wrestlers were manhandled in a tweet on Tuesday, two days after horrific photographs of Vinesh Phogat and other wrestlers being taken from the scene of their protest in central Delhi surfaced. Any issue may be resolved with the right communication. I’m hoping for a solution as soon as possible.

On Wednesday, a day after the happenings had occurred, Uthappa expressed his “sadden” and assurance that there was “certainly a better way to have this addressed in a peaceful manner.”

When the wrestlers proceeded to march toward the new parliament building, which was at the time being inaugurated by India’s prime minister Narendra Modi, they broke over the security barriers and were stopped by Delhi Police. Police officers soon evacuated the protest location, which was close to the parliament building, after the demonstrators were shoved into buses and hauled away.

Irfan Pathan also tweeted “I’m so sad to see the visuals of our Athletes” on Sunday night, in addition to Kumble and Uthappa. And from Manoj Tiwary, who now serves in West Bengal’s Legislative Assembly and lent his support to the wrestlers.

Around the time of the IPL 2023 final, which Chennai Super Kings defeated Gujarat Titans by one ball in overtime, Kumble, Irfan, and Tiwary tweeted.

Sakshi Malik even tweeted out a sort of jab at the Indian cricket community the morning after the final, which had been delayed for two days due to rain in Ahmedabad.

A short while later, Malik, Phogat, and Bajrang Punia announced publicly that they would be immersing their medals—awarded at international tournaments like the Olympic Games and the World Championships—into the River Ganga. They have subsequently decided not to.

In January, the wrestlers began their protest.

They claim that during the past ten years, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the head of the Indian wrestling federation, has sexually abused and exploited female wrestlers, including a kid. That came after Delhi Police decided to look into the allegations against Singh a week after the initial complaint was made, and only after the wrestlers requested action from the Supreme Court. The wrestlers’ main goal, however, has been to depose Singh and bring attention to the accusations leveled against him.

Just over a month ago, cricketers like Kapil Dev, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, and Shikha Pandey spoke out against the demonstrations being organized by India’s top wrestlers calling for Singh to be fired.

“Will they ever get justice,” Kapil had questioned at the time in an Instagram post with a picture of Phogat, Punia, and Malik – the latter two Olympic medalists who have served as the protest’s faces. They also participated in a group of about 30 wrestlers who made the accusations against Singh, a lawmaker from the governing Bharatiya Janata Party, public in January.

The union sports ministry, whose director is the former BCCI president Anurag Thakur, then instructed its oversight committee to look into the situation and report back by the end of February. Boxer MC Mary Kom and wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, both Olympic medalists (Mary Kom is a former member of parliament), were on the committee. The wrestlers reportedly have not had access to the oversight committee’s conclusions.

The cricket community’s support for the wrestlers had always been incredibly meager, and Phogat had even made a sort of appeal to the Indian cricket community, asking why they had chosen to remain silent regarding the misery of their fellow athletes.

The Indian Express quoted Phogat as adding, “The entire country worships cricket but not even a single cricketer has spoken up.” “We’re not requesting that you speak in our favor, but at the very least, convey a message of neutrality and assert that justice should be served to all parties. This is what hurts… Whether it be boxers, athletes, badminton, cricketers, etc.

“It’s not like our nation lacks notable athletes. Cricketers exist… They demonstrated their support for the US Black Lives Matter campaign. Do we not deserve at least that much?

“You do approach us to offer our congratulations when we succeed. When that occurs, even the cricket players tweet. What just transpired, Abhi kya ho gaya? Do you really fear the system that much? Or perhaps there’s something suspicious going on there as well?”

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