New Delhi

File image of Narinder Batra.(File)



The Indian Olympic Association on Monday urged sportspersons supporting the ongoing protest against new agriculture laws to have faith in the government to resolve the impasse, saying they should treat their national honours and the agitation as “two separate things.”

In a show of solidarity with the farmers, some sportspersons from Punjab and Haryana, including Khel Ratna awardee Vijender Singh, have threatened to return the national sports awards they had won.

“Of late sportspersons are seen to be announcing return of their National Awards as a mark of their support for the recent farmers issue. National Awards and farmers issue are two separate things,” IOA President Narinder Batra and Secretary General Rajeev Mehta said in a joint statement.

“…every Indian, including us, loves and supports the farmers and we all would always like our farming community to be happy as they are the ‘Annadatas’ of our country,” they added.

The duo hoped for an early resolution to the issue and urged the athletes to wait for the outcome of the dialogue between the government and farmers leaders. The next round of talks is due on Tuesday. “The government and the farmer leaders are in talks and we all are hoping for an early resolution & solution. Till such time let us have trust in our government and the farmers leaders who are in dialogue.” Led by two-time Asian Games gold-winning former wrestler Kartar Singh, a few sportspersons from Punjab on Monday marched towards the Rashtrapati Bhavan to return “35 national sports awards” in a show of solidarity with the agitating farmers.

They were, however, stopped midway by the police. The marching athletes claimed to have the support of several Arjuna and other national sports awards winners.

Earlier, India’s first Olympic medal-winning boxer Vijender had also threatened to return the Khel Ratna in support of the protesting farmers.

Thousands of farmers from Punjab and Haryana are camping at various Delhi border points for over a week, protesting against the new farm laws, which they claim will dismantle the minimum support price system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporate houses.

Farmers’ concern is that these laws, aimed at reforming the sector, will eliminate the MSP and mandis that ensure their earning. But the government says the MSP system will continue and the new laws will give farmers more options to sell their produce.

The protestors have called for a ‘Bharat Bandh’ on December 8, supported by various political parties. PTI PDS PM PM