Vijender Singh, who won a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics, joined the ongoing protesting farmers at the Delhi border and said he would return his Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, India’s highest sporting honour, if the central government does not repeal the contentious farm laws.
“If the government doesn’t withdraw the black laws, I will return my Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award,” Vijender said while speaking from the protest site at Singhu border.
“I got the award for making the country proud at the international arena, but the way the government is dealing with the farmers is unacceptable. So, in protest I will return the award and all other benefits that I got along with the award,” Vijender said, according to a report in HT.
“Hope the government listens to the farmers’ demands and resolve the issue soon, otherwise this protest will turn out to be a nation-wide agitation. I appeal to all the sportspersons to contribute in this revolution, in this fight for the farmers’ rights.”
“I’d received training in Punjab & had their ‘roti’. Today when they’re here in cold, I’ve come as their brother. Other athletes from Haryana wanted to come but they have govt jobs & would’ve been in trouble. They say they’re with farmers,” the boxer from Haryana was quoted as saying by ANI.
The protests by farmers are against The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
Vijender was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2009 after becoming the first Indian boxer to win an Olympic medal. Vijender Singh had joined the Congress party and contested the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections from Delhi.
Five former sporting greats from Punjab, Arjuna awardees Rajbir Kaur and Gurmail Singh (Hockey), Kartar Singh (wrestling), Jaipal Singh (boxing) and Dhyanchand awardee Ajit Singh (hockey), also joined the protest at Singhu border on Sunday.
Vijender Singh is the latest sportsmen to lend his voice to the protesting farmers, with Punjab boxers Kaur Singh, Gurbaksh Singh Sandhu and Jaipal Singh previously having decided to return their Padam Shri, Dronacharya Award and Arjuna Award respectively.