Wrestlers consider IOA's takeover of Wrestling Federation as the first step towards justice

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On Sunday, the protesting wrestlers referred to the Indian Olympic Association's (IOA) decision to take over all Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) operations as the "first step" in their struggle against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the outgoing WFI president.

The finest wrestlers in the nation, including Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, and Bajrang Punia, have been demonstrating at the Jantar Mantar for the past 22 days in support of Brij Bhushan's detention for allegedly harassing female wrestlers. 

In a letter dated May 12 asking the WFI secretary general to provide official papers, including financial instruments, to its special panel, the IOA made it plain that the departing office holders would not be involved in the organization's management.

"This (the dissolution of the current WFI) is the first step in our fight for justice. Our fight has begun in right earnest, it's a victory for us... and we will continue or fight until we get justice," said Bajrang, the Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist. 

Vinesh Phogat, a gold medalist from the Asian Games, 6 the absence of any female lawmakers from the ruling party who had visited with the wrestlers "to extend support in our fight for the dignity of women." She stated that starting on Monday, the wrestlers will send handwritten or electronic messages requesting support to all female lawmakers from the ruling party.

"When they talk about the safety of women in the country, then we too are their daughters and they should come out and support us," she said. "We are writing an open letter to them (ruling party's women parliamentarians) and our fellow wrestlers will deliver those letters by hand. We will also send letters via e-mail. We feel that our voice, our grievances, have not yet reached them... we feel that after they receive the letters they will come and support us," added Vinesh. 

Additionally, Vinesh asked the crowd assembled at Jantar Mantar to deliver a memorandum in favour of the wrestlers to each district headquarters on May 16th. 

"We request the people supporting us to also launch a satyagraha andolan (nonviolent resistance) for just one day for the dignity of women," added Vinesh. 

The three-person ad hoc committee of the IOA has stated that the election of new WFI office bearers would be finished within the 45-day time constraint and that the responsibility will be returned to the elected body.

"Once the elections will be held, the administrative powers will go back to the WFI. The newly elected officials will run the show. It's just a temporary move that ad-hoc is managing the affairs of the federation," an official told PTI.

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