Vijender Singh at the farmer protest.(ANI)
After several former sportspersons from Punjab decided to return their awards, 2008 Olympics bronze medallist boxer Vijender Singh have joined them to return his Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in support of the protesting farmers at the Delhi border.
Vijender, the first Indian boxer to win an Olympic medal, said he will return the country’s highest sporting honour if the union government failed to meet the demands of the farmers.
“I owe a lot to Punjab. I spent maximum of time during my boxing career at National Institute of Sports (NIS) Patiala, so now its my time to pay back to the state,” says Vijender Singh, who joined the farmers’ protest at Singhu border in Sonepat on Sunday.
“I totally support the farmers’ demands and the entire country should support them because they are the lifeline of the country. Without them we can’t live for a day.”
Vijender got the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2009 for winning bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. “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,” said Vijender.
“Hope the government listens to the farmers’ demands and resolve the issue soon, otherwise this protest will turnout to be a nation-wide agitation. I appeal to all the sportspersons to contribute in this revolution, in this fight for the farmers’ rights. “
Five former sporting greats from Punjab also joined the protest at Singhu border on Sunday.
Arjuna awardees Rajbir Kaur and Gurmail Singh (Hockey), Kartar Singh (wrestling), Jaipal Singh (boxing) and Dhyanchand awardee Ajit Singh (hockey).
“Over 40 former sportspersons from Punjab had already announced to return their national sports awards in solidarity to the protesting farmers. In coming days many more sportspersons from Punjab and neighbouring state Haryana are likely to extend their support to the farmers. It’s a nation wide protest and we wouldn’t back out till the time the protesting farmers get their due from the government,” said former Indian women’s hockey captain Rajbir Kaur.