Ex-sportspersons of Punjab to return medals on Dec 5

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CHANDIGARH: Joining the chorus backing the agitating farmers, three former Punjab sportspersons, all belonging to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), have announced to return their awards in protest against the use of police force during the farmers’ protests, including Padma Shri and Arjuna awardee wrestler Kartar Singh, Arjuna awardee basketball player Sajjan Singh Cheema and Arjuna awardee hockey player Rajbir Kaur.

They announced that they will proceed to Delhi on December 5 to place the awards outside the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Cheema, who represented India at the 1982 Asian Games, said: “We are the children of farmers. They have been holding peaceful agitation for the last several months. When they were heading to Delhi, why water cannons and tear gas shells were used on them?”

Kartar Singh, who has retired as Inspector General from Punjab Police, said, “If farmers do not want such laws, then why is the Central government imposing them?”

Kartar Singh had won the gold in the 1978 Asian Games held in Bangkok and the 1986 Asian Games held in Seoul. He also won a silver in the 1982 Asian Games held in Delhi.

The trio, including Kaur, the only Indian women’s hockey player who represented the country in four consecutive Asian Games in 1982, 1986, 1990 and 1994, had joined the Aam Aadmi Party in 2016.

Meanwhile, expressing solidarity with the agitating farmers, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) patron Parkash Singh Badal on Thursday returned his Padma Vibhushan award in protest against “the betrayal of the farmers by the government”.

Rajya Sabha MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa also announced that he will return the Padma Bhushan conferred on him in 2019.

While reviewing the development works of both the districts with Tej Partap Singh Phoolka and Amrit Kaur Gill, Deputy Commissioners of Barnala and Fatehgarh Sahib, she said that the DCs of all the districts to rope in the surrounding Panchayats for periodic assessment of the Gaushalas in their respective districts and for capacity enhancement. The DC of Barnala said that the sex ratio in his district has gone up to 965 this year as compared to 895 last year.

Responding to the queries of the media, later on, Ms. Vini Mahajan said that she was personally visiting each divisional headquarter and holding meetings with the Deputy Commissioners of the districts falling in that division to remove the stagnation in the development works after COVID-19. And instructions are being given to complete the ongoing projects in those districts on a war footing. On being asked about the Punjab Government’s arrangements to contain the second possible wave of COVID, she said that Punjab has been adjudged among the top three districts of the country having most of the RT-PCR  tests. She said that the government has increased the testing capacity to 30,000 per day.  She said that the government was strengthening the level two and level three COVID facilities in the state and increased the capacity of public and private centers by 30 per cent.

Additional Chief Secretary-cum-FCR Mr. Viswajeet Khanna, Additional Chief Secretary NRI Affairs Mr. Kirpa Shankar Saroj, Secretary Personnel Mr. Vivek Pratap Singh and Commissioner Patiala Division Mr. Chandra Gaind and Additional Secretary Coordination-cum-Staff Officer to Chief Secretary Ms. Sakshi Sawhney were also present in the meeting.

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