Indian Olympic Association (IOA) chief PT Usha has come under much criticism after she said that the agitating wrestlers are tarnishing the image of the country.
The wrestlers are on an agitation in New Delhi demanding action against BJP MP and Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brijbhushan Singh for alleged sexual harassment.
WHAT USHA SAID
Usha said the wrestler’s agitation at JantarMantar has brought bad publicity to the country. She opined that the protestors should have first approached the IOA’s Athletes Commission with their grievance before staging a protest. Usha also called for the wrestlers to be “disciplined”.
She said that the renowned wrestlers who brought laurels to the country have an equal responsibility of safeguarding the interest of the sports and sportspersons and also the image of our country. However, she noted that they were sitting on dharna, asking all political parties to join them.
She further said that the wrestlers should have come to the athletes commission if their problems were real. PT Usha told reporters after the IOA’s executive committee (EC) meeting here, which discussed the wrestlers’ protest and decided to form a three-member ad-hoc committee to run the WFI’s day-to-day affairs and hold its elections within 45 days of the formation of the body.
Three months after ending their dharna over the same issue, the wrestlers resumed their protest against the WFI chief on April 23. The report of the committee formed to probe the allegation has not been made public yet.
Decorated wrestlers VineshPhogat, BajrangPunia and Sakshi Malik are the three central characters in the renewed protests against BrijBhushanSharan Singh. Soon after Usha made the statement, they said that they were shocked to hear such comments from a legendary athlete like Usha.
Noting that the legendary athletewas a role model to them, they asked how Ushaherself being a female athlete once could not understand the plight of female sportspersons.
In a tweet, Congress leader and Thiruvananthapuram MP ShashiTharoor said “Dear @PTUshaOfficial, it does not become you to disparage the justified protests of your fellow sportspersons in the face of repeated & wanton sexual harassment. Their standing up for their rights does not “tarnish the image of the nation”. Ignoring their concerns – instead of hearing them out, investigating them & taking just action – does.”
Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader MahuaMoitra also hit out saying, “Wrestlers protesting on streets tarnishing India’s image says @PTUshaOfficial So ruling party MP chairing WFI for years accused of molestation & abuse of power against who @DelhiPolice refuses to lodge FIR in spite of SC order makes India smell of roses, does it? #StopCrawling.”
Shiv Sena (UBT) leader PriyankaChaturvedi also slammed her remarks and tweeted “Country’s image is tarnished when we have MPs accused of sexual harassment going scot free while the victims have to struggle for justice. Am sorry Ma’m we must collectively speak up for our sportswomen not accuse them of tarnishing image when they are the ones who won laurels… “
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader and national president of All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) PK Sreemathy said that her remarks were “most unfortunate”.
“PT Usha is a most well known and respected athlete but her statement criticising the international women wrestlers for sitting on dharna calling it an act of indiscipline is most unfortunate and disappointing,” she said.
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, “We must all stand with the wrestlers who are protesting. They are speaking in one voice. Our sportspersons are the pride of our nation. They are champions. The guilty must be brought to book, irrespective of their political affiliation. Justice must prevail. Truth must win.”