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Sunday, November 28, 2021

‘Goonga Pahalwan’ Virender Singh protests outside Haryana Bhawan a day after receiving Padma Shri

Virender Singh, who is popularly known as Goonga Pahalwan, is demanding para status for the hearing-impaired athletes.

By: Sports Desk |
Updated: November 10, 2021 5:56:10 pm
Virender Singh sits on protest outside Haryana Bhawan a day after being honoured with the Padma Shri award. (Source: Virender/Twitter)

A day after receiving the Padma Shri award from President Ram Nath Kovind, wrestler from Haryana, Virender Singh, sat on an indefinite protest on Wednesday outside Haryana Bhawan in Delhi. Virender, who is popularly known as Goonga Pahalwan, is demanding para status for the hearing-impaired athletes.

Virender has won three gold medals at the Deaflympics in 2005, 2013, and 2017 and a bronze medal at the 2009 Deaflympics. He has also won the title at the World Deaf Wrestling Championships in 2016 after taking a silver and bronze in the 2008 and 2012 editions.

Virender was honoured with the Arjuna Award in June 2015 before receiving the Rajiv Gandhi State Sports Award. On Tuesday, Virender shared the joy of receiving the prestigious Padma Shri award and wrote, “I am truly humbled and blessed to receive the Padma Shri award from our Hon’ble President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind sir. Extremely grateful to the Government of India for this prestigious honour!”

Calling it a moment of pride, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar also shared a photo from the ceremony and wrote, “It is a matter of pride for all the people of the state that the son of Haryana and Para Wrestler of Freestyle Wrestling, Mr. Virendra Singh ji has been honored with the ‘Padma Shri’ award. Hearty congratulations and best wishes to him for this award.”

However, the 35-year-old wrestler took a jibe at the CM and responded on his tweet the next day, “Chief Minister, if you consider me as a para player, then why don’t you give equal rights to us as Para. I have been eating from hand to mouth for the last four years, I am still a junior coach and I have not been given the same cash award. Yesterday I spoke to the Prime Minister about this. Now you have to decide!”

He later tweeted a photo of himself sitting in front of Haryana Bhawan in the national capital, asking Khattar why the state government does not consider them equal to para. “Honorable Chief Minister Sir, I am sitting on the footpath of your residence Delhi Haryana Bhawan and I will not move from here till you will not give equal rights to deaf players like para players. When the Center can give us equal rights, then why can’t you?”

Padma Shri is one of the highest civilian honours of India announced annually on the eve of Republic Day, for distinguished service. The Awards are given in three categories: Padma Vibhushan (for exceptional and distinguished service), Padma Bhushan (distinguished service of higher-order) and Padma Shri (distinguished service). The award seeks to recognise achievements in all fields of activities or disciplines where an element of public service is involved.

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