As a mark of solidarity towards the agitating farmers, more than 30 sportspersons of Punjab have offered to return their awards to President Ram Nath Kovind. The initiative in this regard has been taken by Sajjan Singh Cheema, a former basketball player and Arjuna award winner. The group includes hockey players Gurmail Singh and Surinder Singh Sodhi who were members of the 1980 Moscow Olympic gold medal winning Indian team. They have sought Dec 5 as the date to meet President Kovind.
Sajjan along-with his three brothers–Balkar Singh Cheema, Gurmeet Singh Cheema and Kuldeep Singh Cheema–have represented India in the basketball team and have made the nation proud at both the national and international levels. Sajjan, who is recovering from COVID-19 in a Jalandhar hospital, said that his father too was a farmer and that the new farm laws are not in their interest. He represented Indian basketball team in the 1982 Asian games and retired as a Superintendent of Police.
Kartar Singh, a Padma Shri and Arjuna Award winning wrestler, too has decided to return his award. He is of the view that the farmers have been protesting peacefully for the past five months and that the government should look into the demands of the former and scrap the farm bills.
Former world body-building champion Prem Singh Degra has also joined the chorus of sportspersons to return their awards.
Rajbir Kaur, former Indian women’s hockey team captain, and her husband Gurmail Singh who too was a member of the 1980 Moscow Olympic gold winning Indian hockey team have also decided to back the farmers’ demands by returning their awards.
In addition, Balwinder Singh, a 1982 Asian Games bronze medalist and Harcharan Singh Boparai, member of 1975 Hockey World Cup winning Indian hockey team have also offered to return the prestigious Arjuna awards.
It needs to be seen what comes out of their meeting with President Kovind.