In the wake of the ongoing farmer’s protest, Dr Varinder Pal Singh, an agricultural scientist from Punjab Agricultural University refused to receive fertilisers industry Body- Fertiliser Association of India’s (FAI) golden jubilee award. The award includes Rs 2 lakh cash, gold medal and citation. The award was to be conferred by Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister DV Sadananda Gowda.
Dr Singh is a leading soil chemist at the Punjab Agricultural University in Ludhiana was to be awarded by the Fertiliser Association of India for his work in the field of plant nutrition.
He handed copies of a letter he wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, instead, to the minister and Dr Satish Chander, director, FAI, who was also on stage at the time
Dr Singh in his short speech said “I have a humble submission that at this time of crisis for the nation when farmers are on the roads, my conscience does not allow me to receive this award.”
Apologising for being unable to receive the award he added, “It is worth mentioning that I have no political or terrorist connection in my life history and is dedicated only to the integrity and prosperity of India.”
In a report by The Hindu, Dr Singh said “Farmers have been struggling and agitating for their just demands peacefully and a section of the media tried to label them as ‘terrorists’. I was heartbroken and pained on hearing that the annadata (provider of food) was being labelled as a ‘terrorist’ — this is a shameful act on part of such media people. I chose the platform [the award event] to let my voice be heard louder on farmers’ issues. I wanted to convey to the government that they should listen to agitating farmers,”
More recently, former Chief Minister of Punjab and Shiromani Akali Dal Parkash Singh Badal had returned his Padma Vibhushan award in protest of “betrayal of farmers”, and indifferent attitude of BJP-led government towards the ongoing farmers protest against agriculture laws.
Similarly, renowned Punjabi poet Dr Surjit Patar had announced to return his ‘Padma Shri award’ in protest against the “insensitive” attitude of the Centre towards protesting farmers. Rajya Sabha MP Sukhdev Dhindsa has also expressed similar intentions.
Many names have come up in the award returning league to show solidarity with the farmers, including two-time Asian Games gold-winning former wrestler Kartar Singh, who had recently marched towards the Rashtrapati Bhavan returning his national sports awards, and was later stopped by Delhi Police. Likewise, India’s first Olympic medal-winning boxer Vijender Singh had threatened to return his Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna if the contentious laws were not withdrawn.
Respective fields’ renowned personalities are using the platform to lend their voice and support to the agitating farmers in one of the massive protests India has seen in years.