India’s two-time Wrestling World Championships medallist Vinesh Phogat on Tuesday, announced her decision to return her Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna and Arjuna award.

Phogat, who has been in the forefront of a year-long protest against the former Wrestling Federation of India chief and Bhartiya Janta Party MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, revealed her decision on X (formerly Twitter).

“Now I want to get away from the shadow of Vinesh, who won all these awards,” Phogat wrote in a statement addressed to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“I was honoured with Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna and Arjuna Award, which does not hold any significance in my life now. Every woman wishes to live a respectful life. Hence Prime Minister sir, I want to return my Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna and Arjuna Award to you so that it does not stand as a burden in our dignified life.”

Phogat’s decision comes just days after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Bajrang Punia left his Padma Shri – India’s fourth highest civilian honour – on a footpath outside the Prime Minister’s residence in protest of Sanjay Singh’s election as the new Wrestling Federation of India chief a day earlier.

Just hours after Singh, a close aide of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, was elected in as the new president, the 2016 Rio Olympics bronze medallist Sakshi Malik had announced her retirement.

Phogat, in her statement, mentioned that Punia and Malik’s move played a major role in her decision.

“Sakshi Malik left wrestling and Bajrang Punia returned his Padma Shri,” she wrote. “The entire nation knows why the Olympic medallists had to take such a step and you are the country’s Prime Minister, you must surely know.

“I do not know in what condition Bajrang decided to return his Padma Shri. But I am broken inside since I saw his image. Since then I have been repulsed by these awards.”

The 29-year-old Phogat was honoured with the Arjuna Award in 2016 and the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna in 2020.

Phogat’s decision also comes just three days after the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports suspended the newly elected executive committee of the national sports body, accusing it of disregarding norms.

Top Indian wrestlers, including the likes of Phogat, Punia, and Malik, have been demanding the removal of the Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh as the President of the Wrestling Federation of India since January.

The protest was again restarted in April and the wrestlers spent 40 days at the Jantar Mantar in Delhi, with no action taken even three months after they called off their first protests after assurances from the government.