Former Indian hockey team captain Pargat Singh has decided to return the Padma Shri award he received for his outstanding contribution to the sport in 1998 to express solidarity with the farmers who are protesting the new farm laws.
The two-time Olympian, who is also a Congress MLA from Jalandhar Cantonment, will return the nation's fourth-highest civilian honour on December 7 to protest the contentious farm laws enacted by the Union government.
Singh is one of India’s most-respected hockey players and led the Indian hockey squad at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics. In 1989, he also received an Arjun Award.
Other than Singh, several sportspersons who have represented Punjab in many national and state-level competitions have also planned to return their national awards to express solidarity with the farmers. Some of the prominent names include former Arjuna Awardees Sajjan Singh Cheema, Rajbir Kaur, Padma Shri recipient Kartar Singh, Olympic medalist Gurmail Singh and former cricket coach Rajinder Singh. The sports legends have stated that they will head to Delhi on December 5 and place their awards outside the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Even as the Centre’s negotiations with the farmer leaders are ongoing, former Union Minister and five-time Chief Minister of Punjab Parkash Singh Badal announced that he too would return his Padma Vibhushan award on the same issue. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) patriarch also wrote a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind and said that his decision has been taken in protest against “the betrayal of the farmers by the Government of India”.
Rajya Sabha member Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, who is the SAD (Democratic) chief, has also announced that he would return his Padma Bhushan award to express solidarity with the farmers.
The meetings between the government representatives and farmer leaders have been inconclusive after several rounds of negotiations.
The protests by farmers and agricultural organisations at Delhi’s border continued for the seventh straight day.