Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia has returned his Padma Shri award in protest against the newly appointed head of the Indian wrestling association, Sanjay Singh. Punia made this announcement on social media and wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, declaring his decision to return the award. Sharing a video on social media, Bajrang Punia is seen placing his Padma Shri award on the footpath outside the Prime Minister’s residence before walking away, despite appeals from police officers present.

In his letter to Prime Minister Modi, Bajrang Punia expressed his disappointment with the appointment of Sanjay Singh, who has faced serious allegations of sexual harassment by female wrestlers in the past. Punia highlighted the lack of action against Singh and the pressure and intimidation faced by him and other wrestlers during their protests. He mentioned the involvement of the Ministry of Sports and assured that the wrestling federation would reconsider its decision.

The controversy surrounding the wrestling federation started in January when several prominent wrestlers, including Bajrang Punia, raised concerns against the then-president, Brijbhushan Singh, accusing him of mishandling cases of sexual harassment within the wrestling association. The wrestlers initiated a protest, but after assurances of an investigation, they temporarily halted their agitation. However, when the investigation did not yield satisfactory results, the wrestlers resumed their protest.

Brijbhushan Singh was eventually removed from his position, and Sanjay Singh was elected as the new president in the recent elections. This decision led to the resignation of Sakshi Malik and now Bajrang Punia, who returned his Padma Shri award as a symbolic protest against the perceived injustice and lack of accountability within the wrestling federation.

The situation reflects the challenges faced by female wrestlers in the sport and the need for a transparent and accountable governing body to address such issues. Bajrang Punia’s decision to return his award serves as a powerful statement against the prevailing issues and a call for reforms in the wrestling federation.

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