Ritika Phogat, the cousin of Commonwealth Games gold medallists Geeta and Babita Phogat, has died, a tweet by one of the famous Phogat sisters confirmed on Thursday. Ritika, 17, had returned home after competing in a wrestling tournament in Bharatpur last week.
The police suspect that she may have died by suicide. “Ritika, a 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. An investigation is underway,” Ram Singh Bishnoi, DSP, Charkhi Dadri told the media on Thursday.
Ritu Phogat, the mixed martial arts fighter who is the younger sister of Geeta and Babita and a cousin of Ritika on their mother's side, took to Twitter to mourn Ritika’s death.
"Rest in Peace choti behen Ritika. I still can't believe what just happened with you. Will miss you forever Broken heart... Om Shanti," tweeted Ritu.
"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," Ritu said in another tweet.
"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," Minister of State for Road Transport & Highway, VK Singh tweeted.
Geeta and Babita had won gold and silver at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Geeta was the first female wrestler from India to win gold while Babita went on to win gold at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
Their cousin Vinesh Phogat is the top ranked 53kg wrestler in the world and an Asian Games gold medallist. Vinesh is also a favourite to win a medal at this year's Tokyo Olympics.
Ritu won gold at the 2016 Commonwealth Wrestling Championship before embarking on a career in mixed martial artist where she holds a 4-0 record in the ONE Championship.
Bollywood even dedicated a blockbuster movie Dangal on the struggles and achievements of the Phogat siblings.
If you are aware of anyone facing mental health issues or feeling suicidal, please provide help. Here are some helpline numbers of suicide-prevention organisations that can offer emotional support to individuals and families.
State health department's suicide helpline: 104
Sneha Suicide Prevention Centre - 044-24640050 (listed as the sole suicide prevention helpline in Tamil Nadu)
Life Suicide Prevention: 78930 78930
Roshni: 9166202000, 9127848584
Sahai (24-hour): 080 65000111, 080 65000222
Maithri: 0484 2540530
Chaithram: 0484 2361161
Both are 24-hour helpline numbers.
State government's suicide prevention (tollfree): 104
Roshni: 040 66202000, 6620200
SEVA: 09441778290, 040 27504682 (between 9 amd and 7 pm)
Aasara offers support to inidviduals and families during an emotional crisis, for those dealing with mental health issues and suicidal ideation, and to those undergoing trauma after the suicide of a loved one.
24x7 Helpline: 9820466726
Click here for working helplines across India.