Days after saying the protesting wrestlers were being indisciplined and a day after being heavily criticised by them, IOA president P.T. Usha made a surprise visit to Jantar Mantar to meet them on Wednesday and reportedly assured them support.
While Usha refused to talk to the assembled media, she spent time with the three protesting wrestlers who later expressed thanks for her visit. “For us, anyone who comes here to support us is welcome and we respect them all. Better late than never. She claimed her statements have been twisted and that she was an athlete first and foremost, assuring us of her support,” Bajrang Punia said.
“Even though she did not directly say anything about ending the protest, she did say ‘I want to see you at training, see you practice and win more medals for the country’,” Sakshi Malik added.
Asked about the IOA committee formed to look into their complaints, Vinesh Phogat admitted Usha was non-committal. “She did not give any timespan for the committee to complete its investigation, saying these things take time and that the IOA has now formed a committee to run the WFI also.
“We told her that now the WFI is under IOA, it should focus on holding competitions and ensuring things are normal and safe for youngsters and that as a Rajya Sabha MP, raising our issues there will be a sign of support,” she said.
The wrestlers also slammed the Delhi Police for spreading disinformation to discredit them. “They are saying the wrestlers are not recording statements or co-operating, they tell people coming to meet us that we hardly stay here — do they have anything in writing from any wrestler?
“This morning some kids from an NGO came and were told no one stays here, the wrestlers come only by 11 or 12. They are constantly blaming us and giving excuses,” Vinesh claimed.