Seventeen-year-old Ritika Phogat, one of the cousins of famous wrestlers Geeta and Babita Phogat, allegedly committed suicide yesterday after she lost a game at the finale of a wrestling tournament in Bharatpur, Rajasthan. The championship was held in Rajasthan’s Bharatpur from March 12 to 14.
“Ritika, the wrestler and cousin of Babita Phogat, allegedly committed suicide on 17 March. The reason behind it might have been her defeat at a recent wrestling tournament in Rajasthan. Investigation underway,” Ram Singh Bishnoi, DSP, Charkhi Dadri, said.
A native of Rajasthan’s Jaipur village, Ritika was living with her uncle and Dronacharya awardee Mahavir Singh Phogat in Charkhi Dadri’s Balali village under Jhojhu Kalan police station for the past four years, Station House Officer (SHO) Dilbagh Singh said.
Ritika, who was learning and practising wrestling at the Mahavir Phogat Sports Academy in Charkhi Dadri, hanged herself from a ceiling fan at her uncle’s house on the night of March 15 as she was upset over losing to her rival by one point in the final bout of a championship, he said.
Another Phogat sister, Ritu, who is an MMA wrestler, took to Twitter and posted Ritika’s photo and wrote an emotional note.
“Rest in Peace choti behen Ritika. I still can’t believe what just happened with you Will miss you forever. Om Shanti,” Ritu tweeted.
“I have been getting messages all morning today. I am very sad and disturbed about what happened in my family. I urge people to not spread and believe in any rumours and act responsibly. These are tough times for me and my family and I urge you all to respect our privacy. Thank you for all your love, support and understanding,” she wrote further.
Geeta took to Twitter too, and wrote an emotional post.
Ritika, just 17 years old, was taking part in the state level, sub-junior, junior women’s and men’s wrestling tournament.
Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways Gen Vijay Kumar Singh confirmed the news on social media. He tweeted to say, “Terrible news that we lost #RitikaPhogat who had a brilliant career ahead. The world has changed from where it was some decades ago. Athletes are facing pressures which were not there earlier. An essential part of their training should be to deal with these pressures.”
Ritika’s tragic death is another reminder of the intense pressure that athletes feel from a very early age.