Padma Shri Vijender Singh is the latest sportsperson to announce or threaten to return a national award to support the ongoing farmers’ agitation that has continued into day 11. Singh on Sunday joined the protests at the Singhu Border where he said: “If the government doesn’t withdraw the black laws, I’ll return my Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award – the highest sporting honour of the nation,” as reported by ANI.
The 2008 olympian was conferred with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in Sports and Games in 2009.
Among the athletes who announced to give their elusive prizes back are Padma Shri, Dronacharya and and Arjuna awardees including baller Sajjan Singh Cheema, boxer Gurbaksh Singh Sandhu and Hockey player Rajbir Kaur.
The string of gestures started with former Punjab CM and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) patron Parkash Singh Badal returning Padma Vibhushan in protest against the legislation. Several eminent personalities from the world of sports and arts and even lawmakers have joined Badal over the past week to show solidarity with the farmers fighting for their rights for over two months now.
The five-hour-long fifth round of talks between farmers and the central government on Saturday, December 5 invariably came to an impasse like all the previous dialogues. The centre has reportedly sought more time from the farmer unions to present a more definite proposal in consultation within the government. Four hours in, the farmer union representatives – insisting the government roll back the laws – were seen holding placards with a finger on their lips asking them to answer in “Yes” or ‘No”.
A sixth meeting proposed by the union government has been agreed to by the farmers and will be held on Wednesday, 9th December.