2008 Olympic bronze medalist boxer Vijender Singh joined him to return his Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in support of protesting farmers on the Delhi border after several former Punjab players decided to return their awards.
Vijender, the first Indian boxer to win an Olympic medal, said he would return the country’s highest sporting honor if the central government failed to meet the farmers’ demands.
He said, ‘I have great faith in Punjab. I spent most of my time at the National Institute of Sports (NIS), Patiala, during my boxing career, so now is my time to pay back in the state, ”says Vijender Singh, who led the farmers protest at the Singhu border in Sonepat on Sunday joined in.
“I fully support the demands of the farmers and the entire country should support them as they are the lifeline of the country. We cannot live for a day without them. “
Vijender received the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2009 for winning bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. “I received the award for making the country proud in the international arena, but the way the government is treating farmers is unacceptable. Therefore, in protest I will return the prize and all other benefits that I get with the award.
“Hope the government listens to the demands of the farmers and resolves the issue soon, otherwise this protest will be a nationwide movement. I appeal all the players to contribute in this revolution, in this fight for the rights of farmers. “
Five former sports greats from Punjab also participated in the protests at the Singhu border on Sunday.
Arjuna Award winners Rajbir Kaur and Gurmail Singh (hockey), Kartar Singh (wrestling), Jaipal Singh (boxing) and Dhyanchand Award winner Ajit Singh (hockey).
“More than 40 former players from Punjab had already announced to return their National Sports Awards in solidarity to the protesting farmers. In the coming days, many more sportspersons from Punjab and neighboring Haryana are likely to get support. This is a nationwide protest and we will not back down until the protesting farmers get their rights from the government, ”said former Indian women’s hockey captain Rajbir Kaur.
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