Chandigarh (Punjab) [India], December 3 (ANI): Shiromani Akali Dal (Democratic) chief and Rajya Sabha member Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, on Thursday announced that he will be returning the Padma Bhushan conferred on him in 2019 in solidarity with protesting farmers said that he hoped that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the concerns of protesting farmers.
"For the last two and a half months we have been hoping that the union government will agree to address the farmers' concerns. The condition of the farmers who include women and elderly women who are protesting is not good," Dhindsa told ANI.
"We are not hopeful that the union government will agree to the farmers' demands but I still appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address the farmers' concerns," he added.
Dhindsa further said: "The farmers produced foodgrains when it was required by the country. In Punjab and Haryana, water and the soil was harmed for mega-production. Earlier, we used to provide 80 per cent of the foodgrain requirements of the country and even now we are providing more than 50 per cent of the requirement."
"The people of Punjab who are enrolled in the Indian Army fought with valour in the wars against Pakistan," he added.
On being asked about the return of Padma Vibhushan award by SAD patriarch Parkash Singh Badal, Dhindsa said he welcomed the move.
Dhindsa was presented the Padma Bhushan by President Ram Nath Kovind in March 2019.
SAD patriarch Badal, former Union Minister and five-time Chief Minister of Punjab earlier in the day announced that he has returned the Padma Vibhushan award "in protest" against the "betrayal of the farmers by the Government of India" and for the "shocking indifference and contempt" with which the government is treating the ongoing peaceful and democratic agitation of the farmers.
This comes as thousands of farmers, primarily from Punjab and Haryana, are protesting at the borders of Delhi against the recent farm laws passed by the Central government. The farmer leaders and the Centre are engaged in talks to resolve the differences over the laws.
Notably, the union government on December 1 said that in the current year's Kharif season, purchase of over 318 lakh metric tonnes of paddy has been done up to November 30, 2020 which is an increase of 18.58 per cent over the last year.
The government further said that Punjab alone has contributed 63.76 per cent of the total procurement amounting to 202.77 lakh metric tonnes. (ANI)