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Rahul Gandhi Meets Bajrang Punia, Other Wrestlers Amid Award Return Spree

At an event in Haryana’s Jhajjar district today, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi met notable wrestlers in the nation, including Olympic bronze medallist Bajrang Poonia.

The meeting takes place in the midst of wrestlers protesting the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) election results by returning their awards. Sanjay Singh, a former wrestling promoter and BJP MP’s aide Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, was chosen to lead WFI. Following accusations of sexual harassment against him earlier this year, the BJP MP was forced to resign.

The protest against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh was spearheaded by Mr. Poonia, Olympic bronze medallist Sakshee Malikkh, and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Vinesh Phogat.

Mr. Poonia stated to the news agency ANI, “Rahul Gandhi came to see our wrestling routine. He wrestled. He arrived to observe a wrestler’s daily routine.”

Mr. Poonia had earlier declared that he would return his Padma Shri and that he would not do so until “sisters and daughters” who are fighting against sexual harassment receive justice.

Ms. Malikkh announced her decision to resign from wrestling at a press conference shortly after the WFI election results, citing her opposition to the victory of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh’s aide.

The center has since halted WFI’s operations due to the junior nationals’ hurried announcement.

The newly elected body “appears to be (in) complete control of former office bearers in complete disregard to the Sports Code,” according to a statement from the Sports ministry.

The ministry stated that WFI’s operations are conducted from locations under the control of former office bearers. “Which is also alleged premises wherein sexual harassment of the players have been alleged and (at) present the court in hearing the matter,” it continued.

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