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Wrestler Vinesh Phogat to return Khel Ratna and Arjuna Awards, pens open letter to PM Modi

Wrestler Vinesh Phogat to return Khel Ratna and Arjuna Awards, pens open letter to PM Modi

'I am returning my Major Dhyan Chand and Khel Ratna awards. Thank you to the 'powerful' ones for putting me in this situation' Vinesh Phogat wrote on X.

Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat on Tuesday announced that she will return the Khel Ratna and Arjuna Awards. Her decision comes in the aftermath of Wrestling Federation of India’s election where Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh’s aide Sanjay Singh emerged as the winner. Wrestler Bajrang Punia returned his Padma Shri in protest, while Sakshee Malikkh announced her retirement from wrestling. Even though the Sports ministry suspended the newly formed body, the wrestlers are showing no signs of softening their stance.

Also Read: Sakshee Malikkh’s mother provides her view on ongoing WFI controversy

Wrestler Vinesh Phogat on Tuesday joined Sakshee and Bajrang when she announced she has decided to return Arjuna Awards. She announced her decision on social media channel X (previously Twitter) and attached an open letter addressed to PM Narendra Modi.

“I am returning my Major Dhyan Chand and Khel Ratna awards. Thank you to the ‘powerful’ ones for putting me in this situation,” she posted.

Vinesh Phogat’s letter to PM

In the letter written in Hindi, Phogat said, “Sakshee Malikkh 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, a daughter of your house and I am writing this letter to you to tell you about the condition I have been in for the past year.”

Wrestler Vinesh Phogat to return Khel Ratna and Arjuna Awards, pens open letter to PM Modi

“I remember the year 2016, when Sakshi Malik won a medal in the Olympics, your government named 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 again and again. Are we women players made only to appear on government advertisements,” she asked.

It remains to be seen if the Sports Ministry takes any further action after Vinesh Phogat’s announcement.

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