Deaflympics gold medallist Virender Singh to return Padma Shri over WFI president election

Virender Singh said he would return the honour as a mark of protest against the election of Brij Bhushan's close aide.

December 23, 2023 04:45 pm | Updated 08:04 pm IST - New Delhi

Deaflympics gold medallist Virender Singh Yadav. File

Deaflympics gold medallist Virender Singh Yadav. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Deaflympics gold medallist Virender Singh Yadav, better known as Goonga Pehlwan, has now decided to return his Padma Shri to the government, showing solidarity with the country's top wrestlers who have objected to election of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh loyalist Sanjay Singh as WFI president.

Throwing his weight behind Olympic bronze medallist grappler Sakshi Malik, who announced her retirement from the sport soon after Sanjay Singh's victory in the recent WFI polls, Virender said he would return the honour as a mark of protest against the election of Brij Bhushan's close aide.

Bajrang Punia, one of the prominent faces of the protest against the former WFI chief, had returned his Padma Shri on Friday.

"I will also return the Padma Shri for my sister and the country's daughter. Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji, I am proud of your daughter and my sister Sakshi Malikkh," Virender wrote on X.

He also urged the country's iconic sports personalities such as Sachin Tendulkar and Neeraj Chopra to give their opinion on the issue.

"I would also request the top players of the country to also give their decision," Virender, said in his post, tagging cricket legend Tendulkar and Olympic champion javelin thrower Chopra.

Virender had received the Padma Shri, the country's fourth highest civilian award, in 2021. Before that, he was honoured with the Arjuna Award in 2015.

"I am returning my Padmashree award to the Prime Minister. This is just my letter to say. This is my statement," read a post shared by the Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Bajrang on X.

On Thursday, Sanjay was elected as the president of the WFI after the panel led by him won 13 of the 15 posts.

Sakshi, Bajrang and Vinesh Phogat had demanded that no close associate of Brij Bhushan should enter the WFI.

The three top wrestlers had accused Brij Bhushan of sexually exploiting several women wrestlers. They had even contemplated throwing away their medals into river Ganga on May 30 in Haridwar but the farmer leaders had convinced them not to take the step.

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