Bajrang Punia may not participate in Asian Games

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Olympic bronze medalist Bajrang Punia said on Thursday that if all the panchayats who supported him during the protest at Jantar Mantar requested him to, he could pull out of the Asian Games. Several khap panchayats had come out in support of Bajrang and his fellow wrestlers during their protest.

They were not pleased, however, when Bajrang and Vinesh accepted direct admission to the quadrennial showcase competition in Hangzhou beginning on September 23 after asking exemption from the Asian Games trials in July.

The parents and coaches of the wrestlers who had participated in the July trials protested the decision of the IOA-established ad hoc committee for wrestling after the two were exempted from competing in trials in Hisar and at the Indian Olympic Association headquarters in New Delhi.

At the Jat Dharamshala in Jind, a conference of khap panchayats was also called to discuss the alleged mistreatment of Vishal Kaliraman, who had won the Asian Games trials but whose name had been submitted as a backup while Bajrang was the top contender in the 65kg freestyle division.

Bajrang said at the Mahapanchayat in Haryana's Jind district that he may withdraw from the Asian Games if the panchayats, who supported him during the demonstration at Jantar Mantar, want him to do so. This came as the khap panchayats' resentment was growing.

Naresh Tikait, a BKU student who frequently frequented the Jantar Mantar protest site, did not attend the meeting, which was attended by about 25 khaps.

On September 10, the following Khap Mahapanchayat will be held.

“All those khap panchayats, all those Chaudhury organisation members who joined in the protest at Jantar Mantar, gather them together. Whatever command they give, I am ready to obey that,” the Tokyo bronze-medal winner said.

“I am not going to make a decision confined in a room. All the khap panchayats should take that decision. We are engaged in the fight for daughters because we are not fighting a wrestling match, we are fighting the battle for our daughters.”

On Thursday, the mahapanchayat was unable to decide, thus another meeting has been scheduled for September 10. Bajrang, however, won't be present for the September 10 mahapanchayat since he is departing for training in Issyk-kul, Kyrgyzstan. But he added that he would respect and accept any choice the mahapanchayat makes.

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