Punjab’s Mandeep Singh Joins Farmers’ Protest. Will This Prompt Other Cricketers to Take a Stand?


Punjab’s Mandeep Singh Joins Farmers’ Protest. Will This Prompt Other Cricketers to Take a Stand?

Illustration: Arati Gujar

As the farmers’ protest in Delhi reaches its 15th day, the number of prominent citizens expressing support and solidarity with their demands continues to grow. Activists, politicians, entertainers, and sports stars: the list is long. Some of Punjab’s and Haryana’s greatest sporting icons have come forward to return their awards to the President in support of the farmers. But while boxers, hockey players, and wrestlers have been vocal about the protests, cricketers have for the most part remained silent. In fact, a fan at the Sydney Cricket Ground asked Indian skipper Virat Kohli to speak up for farmers. “Support India’s farmers you piece of toilet paper,” she can be heard saying in a video which has gone viral. “Kisan ekta zindabad,” she adds.

However, with the exception of a few retired players, like Harbhajan Singh, no active cricketer had voiced their support for the farmers’ protests. Until now, when Mandeep Singh, the Punjab Ranji captain and India player, became the first to do so.

Singh, who featured for Kings XI Punjab in the recently concluded edition of the IPL, joined the farmers from his home state of Punjab, as well as Haryana, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh, who were camped at Delhi’s Singhu border. The 28-year-old cricketer spent a night and day with the farmers, from Monday evening to Tuesday evening. Speaking to The Indian Express, he said, “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.”

With Singh becoming the first active cricketer to lend support to the farmers’ protest, he joins a group of sportspersons from other disciplines who have done the same. Boxer Vijender Singh, Arjuna awardee Sajjan Singh Cheema, and Olympics hockey gold medallist Gurmail Singh are just some of the prominent names who have stood by the protesters.

Indian cricketers are notorious for remaining tight-lipped about social issues during their playing careers, but Mandeep Singh might just have set a new trend.