“Ritika, wrestler, and cousin of Babita Phogat, died allegedly by suicide on March 17. The reason behind it might have been her defeat at a recent wrestling tournament in Rajasthan. Investigation underway,” Ram Singh Bishnoi, DSP, Charkhi Dadri, was quoted by ANI as saying.
A native of Rajasthan’s Jaipur village, Ritika was staying 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, said Station House Officer (SHO) Dilbagh Singh.
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 further tweeted.
Rest in Peace choti behen Ritika. I still can’t believe what just happened with you Will miss you forever 💔💔 Om Sha… https://t.co/J42tbzYyHG
— Ritu phogat (@PhogatRitu) 1616043719000
Thank you for all your love, support and understanding. 🙏🏼🙏🏼
— Ritu phogat (@PhogatRitu) 1616043788000
Geeta also took to Twitter and wrote an emotional post.
भगवान मेरी छोटी बहन मेरे मामा की लड़की रितिका की आत्मा को शांति दे। मेरे परिवार के लिए बहुत ही दुख की घड़ी है। रिति… https://t.co/PgCRvv9P67
— geeta phogat (@geeta_phogat) 1616047852000
Ritika, just 17 years old, was taking part in the state level, sub-junior, junior women’s and men’s wrestling tournament.
Vijay Kumar Singh, Minister of State for Road transport and Highways also 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,” Singh tweeted.
Terrible news that we lost #RitikaPhogat who had a brilliant career ahead. The world has changed from where it was… https://t.co/62PWRD97el
— Vijay Kumar Singh (@Gen_VKSingh) 1616031066000
Ritika’s tragic death is another reminder of the intense pressure that athletes feel from a very early age.
(With inputs from PTI)