After Punia, Virender Singh Yadav to return Padma Shri award

New Delhi: A day after Bajrang Punia returned his Padma Shri Award to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 2005 Summer Deaflympics gold medal winner Virender Singh Yadav announced he will do the same as a protest after Brij Bhushan Singh’s close aide Sanjay Singh was elected as the President of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).

Virender Singh Yadav, also known as Goonga Pehalwan, received the prestigious Padma Shri Award back in 2021. Before that, he was honoured with the prestigious Arjuna Award in 2015.

On Friday, Punia, as a mark of protest, kept the Padma Shri Award on the footpath near the Prime Minister’s residence and left the place. “I will give the Padma Shri award to anyone who will take it to PM Modi,” Punia told the Delhi Police.

Announcing his decision to return his Padma Shri on Twitter, Virender also questioned cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar and star-javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra to give their decision on the ongoing rift between players and WFI.

“I will also return the Padma Shri for my sister and the daughter of the country, Honorable Prime Minister Shri @narendramodi Sir. I am proud of your daughter and my sister SakshiMalik,” wrote Virender Singh on X.

“But… why…? But I would also request the top players of the country to also give their decision…@sachin_rt @Neeraj_chopra1,” he said in his post.

On Thursday, 2016 Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik announced quitting Wrestling following Sanjay Singh’s election as president of the WFI.

Sakshi removed her shoes and put them on the dais before leaving the press conference in tears. “I am dejected and I will not be competing in wrestling anymore,” an emotional Sakshi had said.

The Sports Ministry on Friday said Bajrang Punia’s decision to return his Padma Shri award in protest against Sanjay Singh’s election as Wrestling Federation of India president is a personal one but it will still try to convince him to rethink the move.

“It is Bajrang Punia’s personal decision to return Padma Shri. The WFI elections were held in a fair and democratic manner,” a ministry official told the media.

“We will still try to persuade Bajrang to reverse his decision to return Padma Shri,” he added.


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