New Delhi : Expressing solidarity with the protesting farmers seeking the repealing of the three farm laws enacted by the Centre, boxer Vijender Singh on Sunday said he will return all his medals if the farmers’ demands were not met.Vijender won a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and many other medals in other world level competitions.The boxer made the announcement while addressing thousands of farmers protesting at Singhu border on the Delhi-Chandigarh route.Vijender follows the several former sportspersons from Punjab who have decided to return their awards to extend their support to farmers. The farmers have been protesting since November 26 braving chilly winter nights.”I am boxer Vijender Singh, Olympic medalist. I have won various world medals. Our elder brother Punjab has come here for protest. We will not move back until farmers’ demands are not met.”Sonipat is a land of wrestlers. I declare to return all my medals if the government is not ready to fulfill the demands of these farmers,” Vijender said.He is the first Indian boxer to win an Olympic medal. The boxer has also earned the country’s highest sporting honour Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna.
The sportsman said he will not hesitate to return his Rajiv Gandhi award if the government fail to meet the demands of the farmers.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 Singh.Hoping that the government would “listen to the farmers’ demands and resolve the issue soon”, Singh said this is the only way which can stop this protest in which thousands of farmers are sitting on roads for the last 11 days.He also appealed to all the sportspersons to contribute in this fight for the farmers’ rights.Five former sporting greats from Punjab also joined the protest at the Singhu border on Sunday.These sportspersons include Arjuna awardees Rajbir Kaur and Gurmail Singh (Hockey), Kartar Singh (wrestling), Jaipal Singh (boxing) and Dhyanchand awardee Ajit Singh (hockey).Indian women’s hockey captain Rajbir Kaur said that over 40 former sportspersons from Punjab had already announced to return their national sports awards in solidarity to the protesting farmers and that many more from Punjab and Haryana are likely to extend their support to the farmers in coming days.