'Athletes get exemption from offices for sports, not for protest'

'Athletes get exemption from offices for sports, not for protest'
The wrestlers are working on future strategy. File photo: IANS

New Delhi: There are mixed reactions coming in from the wrestling arena after India's ace grapplers -- Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia who have been at the forefront of the protest against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) outgoing chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh -- resumed their duties in the Railways.

Sakshi, Vinesh and Bajrang resumed their work on May 31, few days after the protesting wrestlers were evicted from Jantar Mantar in Delhi -- where they had been protesting since April.

Both Sakshi and Bajrang have denied the reports of withdrawing from the protest.

"This is our fight for justice. We will not step back. We have resumed our duties in Railways, but we are also working on our future strategy," Sakshi said.

On the other hand, Bajrang, in a video message, stressed that the athletes are together and lies are being spread against them to break up their movement.

To this, a couple of renowned wrestling coaches, on condition of anonymity, shared their views on the current development.

One coach welcomed the move, saying, "Wrestlers are already very disturbed and there are several fake news stories getting viral. So, it is good that they cleared the air about jobs and protests. Their fight is against the WFI chief, not the government. So joining duty, I feel, is fine."

However, another senior coach laughed it off. "This is funny. You (athletes) get exemption from your respective offices (government) for training or competitions, not for joining some protest. What will they mention to their office? Give us leave, we want to go and sit on dharna with Khap leaders and farmers' unions for our protest against Brij Bhushan?"

"They need to pick one side. Aap benefits bhi loge aur sarkar ko badnaam bhi karoge (You will take benefits also and then lash out at the government too). This is not possible and ethically wrong."

Earlier, 'unhappy' with wrestlers' decisions of joining duties and meeting Home Minister Amit Shah, farmer leader Rakesh Tikait on Monday announced the postponement of the June 9 protest at Jantar Mantar.

It seems the differences are brewing within, which is not going to help the wrestlers in any way.

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