Punjabi sportspersons set to return awards

Joining the chorus backing the agitating farmers, three former Punjab sportspersons, all belonging to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), have announced to return their awards in protest against the use of police force during the farmers’ protests, including Padma Shri and Arjuna awardee wrestler Kartar Singh, Arjuna awardee basketball player Sajjan Singh Cheema and Arjuna awardee hockey player Rajbir Kaur.

They announced that they will proceed to Delhi on December 5 to place the awards outside the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Cheema, who represented India at the 1982 Asian Games, said: “We are the children of farmers. They have been holding peaceful agitation for the last several months. When they were heading to Delhi, why water cannons and tear gas shells were used on them?”

Kartar Singh, who has retired as Inspector General from Punjab Police, said, “If farmers do not want such laws, then why is the Central government imposing them?”

Kartar Singh had won the gold in the 1978 Asian Games held in Bangkok and the 1986 Asian Games held in Seoul. He also won a silver in the 1982 Asian Games held in Delhi.

The trio, including Kaur, the only Indian women’s hockey player who represented the country in four consecutive Asian Games in 1982, 1986, 1990 and 1994, had joined the Aam Aadmi Party in 2016.

Meanwhile, expressing solidarity with the agitating farmers, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) patron Parkash Singh Badal on Thursday returned his Padma Vibhushan award in protest against “the betrayal of the farmers by the government”.

Rajya Sabha MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa also announced that he will return the Padma Bhushan conferred on him in 2019.

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