Neeraj Chopra, Rani Rampal, Sania Mirza extend support to protesting wrestlers

Neeraj Chopra reacts to wrestlers protest
Neeraj Chopra (left), wrestlers protest at Jantar Mantar. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: Amid the deafening silence of elite sportspersons, Olympic gold medallist Neeraj Chopra, India women's hockey capitan and Padma award winner Rani Rampal and Sania Mirza have extended their support to the protesting wrestlers.

In a tweet on Friday, the javelin champion called for "quick action" from authorities to ensure that justice is served. Rani, in her tweet said "It tears me apart to see my fellow athletes in this situation".

Sania wrote that 'jusitice must served soonr than later'.

They expressed their support to the grapplers a day after Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president P T Usha came down heavily on the wrestlers for hitting the streets to resume their protests instead of approaching its athletes' commission to lodge their complaints against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

Chopra said "it hurts" to see the wrestlers taking to the street in search of justice. "...They have worked hard to represent our great nation and make us proud. As a nation, we are responsible for safeguarding the integrity and dignity of every individual, athlete or not. What's happening should never happen. 

"This is a sensitive issue, and must be dealt with in an impartial and transparent manner. Pertaining authorities must take quick action in order to ensure that justice is served," he tweeted.

 The wrestlers have now received support from the country's only two individual Olympic gold medallists, with 2008 Beijing Games shooting champion Abhinav Bindra too recently voicing his support to the grapplers.

Rani wrote she was pained to see the champions protesting on the street. "Extremely painful to see our renowned wrestlers demanding justice on the streets of India. It tears me apart to see my fellow athletes in this situation who have worked hard in their lives and won great laurels for our beloved country. They deserve justive," she tweetd with #IStandWithMyChampions.

"As an athlete but more as a woman this is too difficult to watch .. they’ve brought laurels to our country and we have all celebrated them , with them .. if you have done that then it’s time to now stand with them in this difficult time too .. this is a highly sensitive matter and serious allegations. I hope whatever the truth is justice is served.. sooner rather than later," wrote Sania Mirza. 

The wrestlers, who include Olympics, Commonwealth and World Championships medal winners in Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat, have been sitting in at Jantar Mantar in the heart of the national capital since last weekend. 

Also backing the wrestlers is cricket legend Kapil Dev and six-time Winter Olympian Shiva Keshavan and former Indian pacer Irfan Pathan, among others.


Tharoor calls Usha out

Thiruvananthapuram MP and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor too objected to Usha's comments that "the grapplers protesting on the streets amounts to indiscipline and is tarnishing the country's image".

Tharoor said athletes "standing up for their rights does not 'tarnish the image of the nation'. Ignoring their concerns and not taking action on them does."

After IOA's Executive Committee meeting on Thursday, UUsha told reporters that "wrestlers staging protests on streets amounts to indiscipline. It is tarnishing the image of India".

The IOA also instituted a three-member ad-hoc panel, including former shooter Suma Shirur, Wushu Association of India chief Bhupendra Singh Bajwa and headed by a yet-to-be-named retired high court judge, to run the affairs of the WFI until a new body is elected.

(With PTI inputs)

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