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Protest Against Farm Laws: Badal, Dhindsa Return Padma Awards

Parkash Singh Badal, the Akali stalwart, had received the country's second-highest civilian honour in 2015

Thursday December 3, 2020 4:53 PM, ummid.com with inputs from IANS


Chandigarh: Expressing solidarity with the agitating farmers over the Centre's farm laws, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) patron Parkash Singh Badal and Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa on Thursday returned their Padma Awards against what they called "the betrayal of the farmers by the government".

91-year-old Badal, in a missive to President Ram Nath Kovind, said he was returning the Padma Bhushan award due to "the shocking indifference and contempt with which the government was treating the ongoing peaceful and democratic agitation of the farmers against the three farm Acts".

The Akali stalwart had received the country's second-highest civilian honour in 2015.

The letter further says:

"When the government of India had brought the ordinances, assurances were given that the farmers' apprehensions on these legislations would be addressed to their satisfaction while bringing the relevant Bills and subsequently the Acts.

"Trusting these assurances, I even appealed to the farmers to believe the government's word. But I was shocked when the government simply went back on its word."

"That was the most painful and embarrassing moment in my long political career. I just cannot put in words the emotional stress which I have been going through since then. I have truly begun to wonder why has the government of the country become so heartless, so cynical and so ungrateful towards the farmers," said the former Punjab Chief Minister Badal.

"While writing this letter to you, I am conscious that I address myself to a President who presides over the destiny of a population 70 per cent of whom are farmers. For over 70 years, these farmers have been serving the country as its 'annadata' with the most selfless and self effacing humility.

"I hardly need to repeat that the country owes a huge and almost undue debt to them. When the country faced hunger and humiliation in the sixties, having to beg for food in world capitals, the government turned to the farmers to pull it out of starvation.

"The farmer responded so heartily that in a matter of three years, he turned the country from a food-begging to a food exporting country. The tide was turned principally by Punjab with Green Revolution. But in the process, he sacrificed the only two natural assets he had: soil fertility and water," he wrote.

"Today however, the same farmer finds himself forced to wage bitter struggles just to secure his fundamental right to live. The three Acts fell as bolts from the blue on the already beleaguered peasantry of the country.

"Now, the spectacle of hundreds of thousands of farmers crying out for justice in one voice in the national capital would have moved any other nation or its government.

"Tragically, no such sensitivity towards the farmers' pain and anger is visible here. I am sure that as the first Citizen of our great country and a conscientious public figure, you would be fully aware and perhaps as deeply concerned about these developments as I have been", Badal wrote.

Meanwhile, Dhindsa, who was presented the Padma Bhushan by President Ram Nath Kovind in March 2019, told the media that he was returning his award in protest against the agricultural laws.

"The award is worthless as farmers are ignored", he said.

His party comprises SAD rebels who blamed Sukhbir Badal for the 2017 election debacle and his 'dubious' role in the probe of the sacrilege incident and subsequent police firing on peaceful protestors.

In July, the rebels arbitrarily removed SAD chief Sukhbir Badal from the party's top post and appointed Dhindsa as the new party chief.

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