A day after Sakshi Malik’s protest against the appointment of Brij Bhushan’s aide Sanjay Singh as the Wrestling Federation Of India (WFI) chief, Olympian Bajrang Punia announced the return of his Padma Shri Award. He headed towards PM Narendra Modi’s residence, aiming to express his discontent, though he was stopped by Delhi Police from reaching there.
In an act of protest, he placed the Padma Shri Award on the footpath outside the premises before departing from the location.
“I will give the Padma Shri award to anyone who will take it to PM Modi,” said to Delhi Police.
— BajrangPunia (@BajrangPunia)
Bajrang also wrote a letter to PM Modi, expressing his disappointment following WFI polls.
“We “respectable” wrestlers could not do anything. I will not be able to live my life as “respectable” after insulting female wrestlers. Such a life will torment me all my life. That’s why I am returning this “honor” to you,” wrote Bajrang Punia in a letter.
A day before, teary-eyed Sakshi Malik had announced that she was quitting the sport.
The wrestling body row, which had been simmering for a while, reached a tipping point for the athlete. Discontent with the management and administration of the sport he loved, Punia felt compelled to take a stand.
The Sports Ministry said Bajrang Punia’s decision to return his Padma Shri award in protest against Sanjay Singh’s election as WFI president was a personal one but it would still try to convince him to rethink the move.
“It is Bajrang Punia’s personal decision to return Padma Shri. The WFI elections were held in fair and democratic manner,” a ministry official told the media.
“We will still try to persuade Bajrang to reverse his decision to return Padma Shri,” he added.
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