Vinesh Phogat

Vinesh Phogat To Return Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award, Arjuna Award

Vinesh Phogat

After ace wrestler Bajrang Punia returned his Padma Shri, Vinesh Phogat on Tuesday announced that she will also return her Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award and Arjuna Award.

India’s wrestling has seen a major shift since the conclusion of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) elections last week.

Former WFI Chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh’s aide Sanjay Singh was elected as the new president on Thursday, which caused a major disappointment among the wrestlers who were protesting against former WFI head, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

After Singh’s victory in the WFI elections, emotional Sakshi broke down as she left the venue announcing her retirement from wrestling while addressing a press conference in the national capital.

However, the WFI body witnessed a major twist after the Union Sports Ministry suspended the newly elected body. The decision came close on the heels of the newly elected WFI chief Sanjay Singh announcing the hosting of the U-15 and U-20 nationals at Nandini Nagar in the Gond district of Uttar Pradesh by the end of the year.

In light of the recent developments, Vinesh took to X, to announce that she will be returning her Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award and Arjuna Award.

She addressed a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and talked about the struggles that she has faced and wrote, “Respected Prime Minister, Sakshi Malik has quit wrestling and Bajrang Punia has returned his Padma Shri. The whole country knows why the players who won Olympic medals for the country were forced to do all this, and you are the head of the country, so this matter must have reached you too.”

“Prime Minister, I am Vinesh Phogat, the daughter of your house and I am writing this letter to you to tell you about the condition I am in for the last one year. I remember the year 2016, when Sakshi Malik won a medal in the Olympics, your government made her the brand ambassador of “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao”. When this was announced, all the women players of the country were happy and were sending congratulatory messages to each other. Today, ever since Sakshi had to leave wrestling, I am remembering that year 2016 again and again. Are we female players made only to appear on government advertisements? We have no objection to those advertisements being published, because from the slogans written in them, it seems that your government wants to work seriously for the upliftment of daughters. I had dreamed of winning a medal in the Olympics, but now this dream is also fading. I would just pray that this dream of the upcoming women players is definitely fulfilled,” Vinesh added.

Vinesh went on to talk about the remarks former WFI chief Brij Bhushan made. He called wrestlers, ‘Manthara’ who was the maid of Queen Kaikeyi in the Hindu epic of Ramayana.

“But our lives are not at all like those fancy advertisements. What the women wrestlers have experienced in the last few years must have made one understand how suffocated we are living. Those fancy flex boards of your advertisements must have become old and now Sakshi has also retired. The exploiter has also declared his dominance, and has also raised slogans in a very crude manner. Just spare 5 minutes of your life and listen to the statements given by that man (Brij Bhushan Singh) in the media, you will know what all he has done. He has called women wrestlers ‘Manthra’, has openly admitted on TV that he has made women wrestlers uncomfortable and has not left even a single opportunity to humiliate us women players. What is more serious is that it has forced many female wrestlers to step back. This is very scary,” Vinesh said.

“Many times I tried to forget this entire incident but it is not so easy. Sir, when I met you, I told you all this too. We have been dragging ourselves on the streets for the last one year for justice. No one is taking care of us. Sir, our medals and awards are said to be worth Rs 15, but these medals are dearer to us than our lives. When we won medals for the country, the whole country considered us proud. Now when we raised our voice for our justice, we are being called traitors. Prime Minister, I want to ask you, are we traitors,” Vinesh added.

Olympic medallist Bajrang on Friday returned his Padma Shri as a mark of protest against Sanjay Singh. Sakshi claimed that she didn’t know why Bajrang returned his award but she also stated that her awards have started to make her feel “disgusted”.

“I don’t know under what condition Bajrang would have decided to return his Padma Shri. But I am suffocating inside after seeing that photo of his. After that now I too have started feeling disgusted with my awards. When I received these awards, my mother distributed sweets in our neighborhood and told my aunts and uncles that Vinesh’s news had come on TV and they should watch it. My daughter looks so beautiful receiving the award.

“Many times I get scared thinking that when my aunt sees our condition on TV, what will she say to my mother? No mother in India would want her daughter to be in this condition. Now I want to get rid of the image of me receiving the award, because that was a dream and what is happening with us now is the reality. I was given Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna and Arjun Award which have no meaning in my life now. Every woman wants to live life with respect. Therefore Prime Minister Sir, I want to return my Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna and Arjun Award to you so that these awards do not become a burden on us in the path of living with dignity,” Vinesh concluded in her letter. (ANI)

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