A report to this effect is malicious and aimed at damaging the reputation of the country's armed forces, the central government has said

A regional newspaper has claimed that 25,000 soldiers of the Indian Army have returned their Shaurya Chakra medals to express solidarity with the farmers protesting against the recently introduced farm laws.

The claim has been described as “false, utterly baseless, and malicious” by the central government.

“A regional language newspaper, in its report, published on December 15, 2020, claimed that 25,000 awardees of Shaurya Chakra have returned the medals in support of the farmers’ agitation. This is completely false, utterly baseless and malicious in nature and aimed at damaging reputation, honor, and pride of our valiant defense forces,” a statement put out by the Press Information Bureau (PIB) Fact Check handle on Twitter read.

On December 15, a report published in the Prajashakti newspaper states that the medals were returned to express solidarity with the farmers.

The official statement denied any such happening and added that the actual number of Shaurya Chakras awarded stood at 2,048, making the claim not only false but factually incorrect.

“In fact, between 1956 to 2019, the actual number of Shaurya Chakras awarded stood at 2,048,” the statement said. The government also advised the media to “exercise caution, verify facts and desist from publishing such blatantly false and malicious news.”

The Shaurya Chakra is awarded for gallantry otherwise than in the face of the enemy. The categories of persons eligible for the honour include officers and men and women of all ranks of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, of any of the Reserve Forces, of the Territorial Army, Militia and of any other lawfully constituted forces.

Members of the Nursing Services of the Armed Forces are also eligible as are civilian citizens of either sex in all walks of life and members of Police Forces including Central Para-Military Forces and Railway Protection Force.

Farmers are protesting against three recently enacted farm laws. Thousands of them have gathered at various Delhi border points protesting against the new farm laws, which they fear will dismantle the Minimum Support Price system, an apprehension that the central government has consistently tried to dispel.

Senior members of the Union Cabinet, including Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, have held multiple rounds of talks with farmers' representatives to find an amicable solution.