• Thursday, June 20, 2024

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India’s 1983 World Cup-winning team backs protesting wrestlers, urges them not to throw medals in Ganges

“We are distressed and disturbed at the unseemly visuals of our champion wrestlers being manhandled. We are also most concerned that they are thinking of dumping their hard earned medals into river Ganga,” a statement released by them said.

Captain of the 1983 World Cup winning Indian cricket team Kapil Dev (3R) speaks next to teammates during the launch of newest edition of The 1983 World Cup Opus in Gurgaon on June 25, 2021. (Photo by PRAKASH SINGH/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

Members of India’s 1983 World Cup-winning team on Friday (2) came out in support of the protesting women wrestlers and urged them not to take any hasty decision about throwing their medals into the Ganges river and hoped that players’ issues will be “heard and resolved”.

In a joint statement, the 1983 triumphant team said it was distressed and disturbed after seeing the visuals of wrestlers being manhandled but also hoped that law of the land will prevail. However, Roger Binny, one of the members of the squad who is now the chief of the Indian cricket board, distanced himself from the statement saying sports should not be mixed with politics.

Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia, who have been demanding the arrest of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Birj Bhushan Sharan Singh, who is also a parliamentarian of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), for alleged sexual exploitation of women wrestlers, took their protest to Haridwar in the northern state of Uttarakhand on Wednesday (31) but did not carry out the threat of immersing their medals into holy river Ganga.

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On Sunday (28), the Delhi Police had detained the wrestlers for violation of law and order when they marched towards the new Parliament building without permission. The police also cleared the protest site and made it clear that the wrestlers will not be allowed back at Jantar Mantar.

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The police action against the wrestlers had invited criticism from different quarters.

“We are distressed and disturbed at the unseemly visuals of our champion wrestlers being manhandled. We are also most concerned that they are thinking of dumping their hard earned medals into river Ganga,” a statement released to PTI by the 1983 World Cup wining team read.

“Those medals have involved years of effort, sacrifice, determination, and grit and are not only their own but the nation’s pride and joy. We urge them not to take any hasty decision in this matter and also fervently hope that their grievances are heard and resolved quickly. Let the law of the land prevail,” the statement read further.

Under legendary skipper Kapil Dev, the Indian cricket team had humbled the mighty Clive Lloyd led-West Indies by 43 runs to win the country’s first World Cup trophy.

“I am not going to say anything individually, the whole of 1983 team stands by the statement we have issued,” Kapil said. The other members of the 83 batch include Sunil Gavaskar, Mohinder Amarnath, K Srikanth, Syed Kirmani, Yashpal Sharma, Madan Lal, Balwinder Singh Sandhu, Sandeep Patil and Kirti Azad.

Kapil had expressed support for the protesters in April as well when he put out a story on his Instagram account with an image of the protesting athletes and captioned it: “Will they ever get justice?”

One of the members, Yashpal Sharma, passed away in 2021 due to a massive heart attack.

The World Cup final was played at the Lord’s on June 25, 1983. Among other former Indian cricketers, Anil Kumble, Robin Uthappa and Irfan Pathan have shown solidarity with the elite wrestlers.

The active cricketers are yet to comment on the controversy.

Reigning Olympic champion in javelin throw, Neeraj Chopra and India’s first individual Olympic gold medallist, shooter Abhinav Bindra have also expressed anguish that wrestlers were forced on to the streets while demanding justice.

Roger Binny distances himself

Binny told Asian News International that the media reports claiming that he has issued a statement on the current situation of the wrestlers’ protest are false.

He also said that the matter is under consideration of the authorities and sports should not be mixed with politics.

“Contrary to some media reports, I would like to clarify that I have not issued any statement regarding the current situation of the wrestlers’ protest. I believe that the competent authorities are working to resolve the issue. As a former cricketer, I believe that sports should not be mixed with politics,” he told ANI.

(With agency inputs)

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