In a first for any national cricketer since the protests by the farmers began against the three farm laws, Punjab captain Mandeep Singh spent a day with the peasants at Singhu border near Delhi Tuesday.
The 28-year-old, who had played for Kings XI Punjab in this year’s IPL, reached Delhi with his elder brother Harvinder Singh and three friends Monday evening and returned to Jalandhar late Tuesday evening.
— Mandeep Singh (@mandeeps12) December 9, 2020
“I was moved by seeing elders and farmers protesting at the Delhi borders and hence I decided to support them. Farmers have hearts of lions and have been protesting peacefully against the farm bills and I only wish that their demands are met as soon as possible and the issue is resolved so that they can return to their homes…in whatever way we can, we are there for the farmers,” said Mandeep while speaking with The Indian Express on his way back to Jalandhar.
Mandeep, who has played in three T20I’s for India so far and has played in 104 matches in IPL in his career, had lost his father, 68-year-old former athletics coach Hardev Singh in October. The Punjab captain was playing in IPL in UAE at that time. He returned to India post the completion of league stage of IPL with Kings XI Punjab bowing out of the tournament and has been practicing at Jalandhar for the yet to be announced domestic competitions.
“While I was away, I read about the farmers protests online and also shared some posts supporting them on social media. Spending a day with farmers, who come from not only Punjab but from states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana, I listened to their views. It’s already winter in North India and lot of them are sleeping under trolleys or spending nights on the road. We can only pray that the issues are resolved at the earliest,” he added.
Meanwhile, the former sportspersons, who are camping in Delhi since Saturday, have once again written to President Ram Nath Kovind to grant them an audience so that they can return their national awards to him before December 12. The sportspersons, led by Padma Shri and Arjuna awardee former wrestler Kartar Singh and including Arjuna awardee hockey player Rajbir Kaur, 1980 Moscow Olympics gold medallist hockey player Gurmail Singh and others, had addressed the farmers’ protest at Singhu border on Sunday. 2008 Beijing Olympics bronze medallist boxer Vijender Singh too had joined them and had announced to return the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award.
“We had sent a letter to the Rashtrapati Bhawan on December 2 and had sought an appointment with president Ram Nath Kovind and had sent a reminder request on December 6. When we marched towards the Rashtrapati Bhawan Monday, we were stopped by Delhi Police. We have come so far to return the awards and also the awards of those, who could not come due to ill health, and we have again requested an audience with the honorable president before December 12,” said 63-year-old Kartar Singh, who had retired as inspector general with Punjab Police.