Farm protest: Legendary gamers go away for Delhi to return awards

Aparna Banerji

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 5

As many as 20 international players of the state left for Delhi this morning to return their respective awards in solidarity with farm protests. While over 41 players gave the consent for returning awards, in all 20 players left for the Singhu border from here. Many others sent in their awards to be returned by the congregation in Delhi.

Their cavalcade was flagged off by environmentalist Balbir Singh Seechewal on the Jalandhar-Chandigarh highway this morning. The acclaimed sportspersons headed to the Singhu border via Ludhiana and Fatehgarh Sahib eventually to participate in the farmers’ protests this evening.

Carrying trophies and medals, players, including Padma Shri wrestler Kartar Singh, Olympain Gurmail Singh, Asian Games goldmedallist Rajbir Kaur, kabaddi player Hardeep Singh, among others, headed to the Singhu border. Sajjan Singh Cheema who could not join the players also sent his award to be returned.

Arjuna awardee weightlifter Tara Singh, walking with the help of a walker, specially came to send his award in solidarity with farmers. He came specially from Phagwara.

The congregation included Padma Shri, Arjuna, Dhyan Chand, Dronacharya awardees.

Padma Shri awardee Kartar Singh Pehlwan said, “Thirtyseven sportspersons have decided to return their awards. Those unable to accompany them have sent in their awards to us. While we shall be visiting farmers in solidarity at the Singhu border today, tomorrow we shall be heading to Delhi to return all the awards. More players from Punjab shall be joining us from Ludhiana, Fatehgarh Sahib, Chandigarh and Patiala and Haryana players will also join us from Sonipat. We are deeply pained by the water cannons rained on farmers in this biting chill. We are with the farmers.”

Asian Games goldmedallist and hockey legend Rajbir Kaur said, “We are taking this step to honour farmers. As long as their protests are on, we feel we should not keep these awards with ourselves.

That is why we are returning them.” Environmentalist Balbir Singh Seechewal said, “The farmers have spent their lives feeding generations. Their demand to the government is that either it withdraws the ordinances or satisfies them. This is a huge protest. These players have also started the campaign to place pressure on the government and are returning their awards. Their collective fight is to seek withdrawal of laws.”

Arjuna awardee Tara Singh backs sportspersons

To express solidarity with the protesting farmers, 66-year-old Arjuna awardee wrestler Tara Singh came from Phagwara, especially to back the sportspersons’ initiative and to return his award. Tara Singh who was the first Indian to win two medals in the Asian Games in 1982 (weightlifting), said, “I have raised the Indian flag 12 times. I have had three surgeries due to sports. Both my knees have had replacement surgeries and two of my discs have damaged. I get Rs 600 as pension today. In the twilight of my life, my land and farm have sustained me. I eat my daily bread because of the dividends from farming. And now my only means of livelihood is also being threatened by the farm laws.”

More to follow suit

Besides, Kartar Singh (wrestling), other Padma Shri awardees Pargat Singh (hockey), Kaur Singh (boxing) and Prem Chand Dhingra (body building), 22 Arjuna awardees, six Dhyan Chand awardees, one Dronacharya awardee and a host of other international players have consented to return their awards.

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