- 92-year-old returns Padma Vibhushan-India's second highest civilian award
- Parkash Singh Badal's Shiromani Akali Dal has also pulled out of NDA
- Group of top sportspersons, coaches from Punjab to return awards on Dec 5
Former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal became the first to return his award in protest against the treatment of the protesting farmers by the Central government. The 92-year-old returned his Padma Vibhushan award -- the second highest civilian honour of the country -- that he received from the government in 2015.
Mr Badal, whose Shiromani Akali Dal has pulled out of the NDA alliance over the farmers' protest, said he was registering his protest against the government's "betrayal of farmers". "I am who I am because of the people, especially the common farmer. Today when he has lost more than his honour, I see no point in holding on to the Padma Bibhushan honour," the Shiromani Akali Dal leader said.
A group of top sportspersons and coaches from Punjab have said they will return their awards and march to Delhi on December 5 in solidarity with the farmers.
"They have been holding peaceful agitation for several months. But water cannons and teargas shells were used against them," Olympic hockey player and Arjuna awardee Sajjan Singh Cheema had said.
The government is meeting the farmers' representatives today -- the second round of talks in a week -- as the protests intensify by the day.
The farmers warned yesterday that this round of talks will be the "last chance" to call an emergency session of parliament and recall the controversial legislations.
The farmers are apprehensive that the new laws will lead to the scrapping of the support price of the government that guarantees them an income and leave them open to manipulation by corporates.
Sources said the government is weighing in on the possibility of giving a written assurance to farmers that the Minimum Support Price or MSP system will continue.
The protest has entered the eighth day, with farmers from Punjab still pouring in at the biorders of Delhi, threatening to block entry to the national capital and "take more steps" if the Centre fails to meet their demands.
Today Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh met Union Home Minister Amit Shah ahead of the Centre's meeting with farmers to help find an amicable solution to the crisis.
"Discussion is going on between farmers and Centre, there's nothing for me to resolve. I reiterated my opposition in my meeting with Home Minister and requested him to resolve the issue as it affects the economy of my state and security of the nation," he said after the meeting.