Retired Indian wrestler Sakshi Malik has strongly criticized iconic sports figures PT Usha and Mary Kom for their lack of support towards a public protest by female wrestlers over sexual harassment charges against former Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
Despite being hailed as inspirations by athletes like herself, Usha and Mary Kom did not speak out in support of the aggrieved female wrestlers, Malik revealed during a recent session at the Mathrubhumi International Festival of Letters (MBIFL) 2024 in Kanakakkunnu.
Expressing her dismay at the response of these legendary sports stars, Malik stated that although both had assured their support to the wrestlers, they failed to take any action to address the issues.
Recalling her interaction with PT Usha, Malik mentioned that despite detailing their grievances to her during a visit to their protest venue, Usha remained silent despite promising assistance.
Speaking about Mary Kom’s involvement as a member of the oversight committee investigating the harassment charges, Malik noted Kom’s emotional response upon hearing the victims’ accounts. However, despite her assurances of support, no concrete solutions were forthcoming.
Malik expressed her disappointment at Kom’s silence, considering her an inspirational figure. She lamented Kom’s lack of advocacy for their cause during the MBIFL event, which featured over 400 speakers from around the globe.
Earlier, top wrestlers including Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, and Sakshi Malik had staged a sit-in protest in New Delhi, demanding action against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh for his alleged harassment of female grapplers. Following the protest, Punia returned his Padma Shri award in protest against Singh’s associate, Sanjay Singh, being elected as the WFI chief.
Malik herself had quit wrestling due to the same issue. The MBIFL, themed ‘Exploring Plurality,’ commenced on February 8 and will conclude on February 11, aiming to delve into diverse perspectives, cultures, and identities.