Thiruvananthapuram: Retired Indian wrestler Sakshi Malik has launched a scathing attack on the country's iconic sportspersons P T Usha and Mary Kom for not extending support to the public protests by a group of female wrestlers over sexual harassment charges against former Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.
Though Usha and Mary Kom were celebrated as 'inspirations' by sportspersons like her, they did not speak up for the aggrieved woman wrestlers despite listening to their stories, Malik said.
The Olympic medal winner was speaking during a recent session held as part of the ongoing Mathrubhumi International Festival of Letters (MBIFL) 2024 at Kanakakkunnu here.
Expressing shock over the response of the legendary sports stars towards their agitation, she said both of them had assured all support to wrestlers but did nothing to find any solution.
"P T Usha madam had visited our protest venue. We told her in detail about our issues... She could have supported us...But she remained silent despite assuring us that she would stand by us and extend all help," Malik said.
The decorated wrestler slightly turned emotional while speaking about legendary Mary Kom.
Kom was a member of the oversight committee formed to probe into the sexual harassment charges against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and submit a report.
Malik recalled that the boxing icon turned 'very emotional' when the complainants narrated the shocking details.
She also said that Kom heard the stories of each woman wrestler as she was in the panel.
"After listening to the stories, she became very emotional... like I am sorry... I feel so bad... she also said she would stand by us," she said.
But, there was no solution even after months had passed, she pointed out.
The wrestler said she was deeply anguished over Kom's silence as she was considered an 'inspirational' figure by her.
"Even she didn't speak for us and remained silent," Malik said on Saturday at the fifth edition of MBIFL where over 400 speakers from around the world have been invited to participate and share their views and experiences.
Top grapplers such as Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik had staged a sit-in protest in New Delhi demanding the arrest of Bhushan after accusing him of sexual harassment against female grapplers.
Later, Punia had returned his Padma Shri award to the government in protest over Bhushan's aide, Sanjay Singh, being elected as the WFI chief.
Malik too had quit wrestling for the same reason.
The MBIFL which began on February 8 would be concluded on February 11.
The theme for this year's edition of the literary event is 'Exploring Plurality' -- a 360-degree attempt at understanding diverse perspectives, cultures, and identities.