Chandigarh : It was his ‘inner voice’ that dared him to say ‘no’ to the national award, which was bestowed upon him for his years’ of dedicated research in plant nutrition, for the sake of ‘brother’ farmers, who have blocked the roads into the national capital for the past 14 days to mark their protest against the Central farm laws.”It was my conscience that didn’t allow me to accept the award,” Punjab Agricultural University’s soil scientist Varinderpal Singh told IANS over phone on Wednesday.Having come from a family of farmers, he refused to accept the Fertiliser Association of India Golden Jubilee Award for Excellence in the field of plant nutrition from the Minister of Chemicals and Fertilisers in New Delhi on Tuesday in solidarity with the farmers.Singh was the joint winner of the award that comprises Rs 2 lakh in cash, gold medal and a citation.Before heading to the award ceremony, he visited the Bangla Sahib Gurdwara, paid his obeisance and made up his mind to refuse the award.”As I was travelling in an auto-rickshaw to the Bangla Sahib Gurdwara to pay my obeisance, my auto driver, who belongs to Uttar Pradesh, talked to me about the plight of the farmers who have been staging protests on Delhi borders,” he said.The driver kept on insisting that Punjabis are taking the lead in the fight for the rights of the farmers from across the country.
“Each one of us must make an effort to strengthen and make the struggle a success, he told me. I went to the gurdwara, paid my obeisance, developed confidence and decided to return the award,” Singh said.For him, equating farmers to terrorists is also disturbing.”They are our ‘annadatas’ (food providers) and not terrorists,” he said.In his letter to Chemicals and Fertiliser Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda, Singh wrote: “I refused to receive the FAI Golden Jubilee Award and gold medal not because of any personal resentment towards you or the Government of India.”It is a time of crisis for the nation when the farmers are on the roads with their genuine demands and the government is not accepting their request to withdraw the anti-national laws. My conscience says that receiving this award at this time would be betrayal to my farmers and my nation.”He said that he has no “political or terrorist connection” and is “dedicated only to the integrity and prosperity of India”.In his another missive to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, explaining why he did not accept the award and also apologising for his act, he urged him to “immediately announce the withdrawal of these laws in the Parliament”.”Ignoring farmers and keeping them on the roads in winters is not in the interest of the nation,” the scientist added.