Wrestler Sakshi Malik on Wednesday said that she has no problem with the recently-elected Wrestling Federation of India except its new president Sanjay Singh, reported PTI.

On December 21, the bronze medallist from the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro had announced that she was retiring from the sport after Sanjay Singh was elected the new president of the now-suspended wrestling body.

Sanjay Singh is a close aide of former Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who was forced to step down from his post last year after top wrestlers of the country accused him of sexual harassment.

“We don’t have any issues with the new federation except one man, Sanjay Singh,” Malik told reporters on Wednesday. “We don’t have any issue if the new body comes back without Sanjay Singh. We do not have any issue with the ad-hoc committee as well.”

Malik also requested the government to make the wrestling sport safer for the players.

“You have seen how Sanjay Singh has been behaving,” she said. “I don’t want Sanjay Singh’s interference in the federation. Everybody saw the kind of power abuse by Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh after the WFI [Wrestling Federation of India] elections. He announced junior nationals at his home without much deliberation.”

Sanjay Singh had received 40 votes to the seven that 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist wrestler Anita Sheoran got last month in the elections. However, on December 24, the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports suspended the wrestling body.

The development came after Sanjay Singh announced that Under-15 and Under-20 nationals for wrestling would take place in the Nandini Nagar area of Uttar Pradesh’s Gonda district before the end of the year.

The district of Gonda is the stronghold of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who is the MP from the Kaiserganj constituency in Uttar Pradesh.

The ministry had also noted that the work of the federation was being carried out from the premises controlled by its former office-bearers, which was where several wrestlers were allegedly sexually harassed earlier. It added that the new wrestling body seemed to be in complete control of former office-bearers, in violation of the Sports Code.

In January last year, several top wrestlers of the country, including Malik, Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Bajrang Punia and three-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Vinesh Phogat, had launched a protest against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh accusing him of intimidation and sexual harassment.

After it ended, the protest resumed in April after no action was taken against Singh by the oversight committee to investigate the allegations.

Following the fresh protests, the politician was forced to step down from his post and an ad-hoc committee was appointed to look after the affairs of the national federation. The elections, which were to be held in July, were delayed due to court cases which led to United World Wrestling to suspend India’s national body.

Sanjay Singh, who hails from Varanasi, has been a close associate of Brij Bhushan with the latter supporting him for the election. Sanjay Singh was earlier a part of the last executive council of the Wrestling Federation of India and also served as the body’s joint secretary since 2019.

Malik’s statement on Wednesday came as junior wrestlers from different parts of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi launched protests against her, Punia and Phogat.

The junior wrestlers blamed Malik, Punia and Phogat for losing out on a year due to their protest against the wrestling body.

They carried posters that read “UWW [United World Wrestling] save our wrestling from these 3 wrestlers”, along with slogans against the trio, PTI reported.

“We knew Brij Bhushan is influential but we did not know he was so powerful that he would declare nationals without discussing with anyone from his residence,” Malik told reporters on Wednesday.

She added: “Now we are being accused of spoiling the wrestling careers of the juniors. I have retired from wrestling. I want junior girls to fulfil what I could not I want them to win silver, gold for the country. I don’t want any junior should suffer for us.”

The athlete also alleged that her mother is receiving threat calls from goons associated with Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, reported the Hindustan Times.