Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh was criticised on Thursday by champion wrestler Bajrang Punia and the head of the Delhi Commission for Women, Swati Maliwal, for allegedly saying that the protesting wrestlers should return their prize money rather than their medals because “they are only worth 15.”
Brij Bhushan is allegedly heard saying, ” No, they should return the money. Medals will be sold for ₹15.”
Reacting to the WFI chief’s remarks, Punia tweeted in Hindi, “The medal that this man is saying is worth ₹15… behind that medal is our 15 years of hard work. People like you did not give in charity, they have been earned after shedding blood and sweat after winning for the country. Had he not considered girls as toys and players as humans, he would not have talked like this.”
On Wednesday, Punia said, “Whatever medals I have won in India, I am willing to return them. My international medals were not given to me by the Indian government, so I’ll keep those. I am also ready to return Arjuna and Khel Ratna honours if we don’t get justice.”
The multiple medalist at the World Championships added that the wrestlers are in contact with their international rivals and might soon experience a groundswell of support from the greater sporting community.
Maliwal too responded angrily to what Brij Bhushan said. “Such disgusting individuals who measure the sacrifices made by champions in money rule the federation. Daughters now must stand in the street for justice because of this. The DCW chief wrote in Hindi, “This medal is not worth 15; this man’s mindset is worth two pence.
In order to guarantee justice for the female grapplers, the protesting wrestlers stated that they would be willing to “sacrifice” their professional wrestling careers.
After visiting Raj Ghat in the evening with Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, Sangeeta Phogat, and their supporters, Punia spoke to the media and declared that they would not give up until Brij Bhushan was arrested for allegedly sexually harassing female wrestlers, including a minor.
“We’ll keep fighting for justice. The entire nation is supporting us very strongly. The government should remember that these are the daughters of the nation since Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (Save girl, Educate girl) is its motto, Punia remarked.
When asked if the protest at Jantar Mantar, which has been ongoing for the past 26 days, is preventing them from getting ready for this year’s Asian Games, Bajrang responded that securing justice for the victims is now their top concern.
“If we get justice for the daughters it is our biggest medal. We are willing to sacrifice. The fight is for good people in WFI and not people like Brij Bhushan or his followers who will keep on molesting women wrestlers,” he said.