Last Thursday, when IPL team Royal Challengers Bangalore announced their #MyCovidHeroes initiative, India and RCB captain Virat Kohli shared about him wearing the jersey of Covid warrior Simranjeet Singh and posted a video message on social media saying, “Meet hero Simranjeet Singh from Chandigarh, who decided to help the deaf community so that no one sleeps hungry.”
On Monday, the Indian skipper, who has more than 38.1 million followers on micro-blogging website Twitter, changed his twitter handle’s name to Simranjeet Singh.
Chandigarh resident Simranjeet Singh (38), a hearing impaired senior assistant in the Punjab Home Guard Department, had raised more than Rs. 98,000 along with his friends for deaf and hearing impaired persons in May-June early this year and as RCB faced Sunrisers Hyderabad in their opening match of the IPL this season, Singh was cheering for Kohli at his Sector 63 home.
On Sunday, Kohli was seen wearing a jersey saying ‘My Covid Heroes’ during the practice session and Kohli will wear Simranjeet’s name on his jersey during one of the matches of the IPL this season.
Speaking to The Indian Express with the help of an interpreter, Singh, who is hearing impaired since birth, said: “Even though I cannot hear or speak, I would read about people facing a lot of difficulty during the lockdown and I would often discuss with my friend, Nitesh Sharma, about doing something for deaf and hearing impaired persons and children during Covid times. I had participated in some activities to help specially-abled children earlier and this time, we approached our neighbours, residents of nearby sectors and my friends, Vikas Jain and Anu Saigal, too contributed money to get ration kits. We raised more than Rs. 98,000 and distributed ration kits for the hearing impaired persons and children staying in different slums and Vatika Public School in Chandigarh. It feels special to see Virat Kohli changing his name to Simranjeet Singh for a day and the honour belongs to all the hearing impaired community. I am waiting to see Virat wear my jersey in this IPL.”
Singh, whose father Jaspal Singh retired from the Public Health Department of Chandigarh Municipal Corporation, had shifted to Chandigarh from his native village Khizrabad in Mohali district and has also played in cricket tournaments for the hearing impaired at the national-level.
He studied at the Vatika Public School, Sector 19, a special school for hearing impaired children in the 90s and joined the Home Guard Department of Punjab government in 2001. His wife, Pooja Saini, is also a hearing impaired and works at Sector 32 Government Medical College and Hospital. The couple has a ten-year-old son, Ishraj Singh, who suffers from moderate hearing loss and uses Cochlear implant to talk and listen.
“My wife works at GMCH and she also keeps participating in activities for hearing impaired children in Chandigarh. When we all started the fund raising drive to arrange ration kits, the only worry we had in our mind was to get the necessary permissions to arrange langar and distribute ration kits during lockdown. My ten-year-old son, who uses Cochlear implants to converse, wanted to join us but stayed at home. He handed us Rs. 500 out of his pocket money for the ration kits. He also loves watching cricket and is a Virat Kohli fan. He too cheered for Virat today and is waiting to see him wear my name on the jersey,” added Singh.
All the members of Royal Challengers Bengaluru will wear the jerseys portraying the name of a Covid warriors with South African batsman Ab De Villiers set to wear jersey with name of Paritosh Pant, founder of a NGO in Mumbai and other players set to wear jerseys of other Covid warriors including Hetika Shah, who developed a special face shield, Zeeshan Javid, who delivered milk to children of migrant labourers in Bengaluru and others. Singh though is the only hearing impaired person in the list.
“Simranjeet and other Covid warriors of Chandigarh have shown that hearing impaired persons too can play their part in helping the society and when Virat will wear the jersey of Simranjeet, it will be a moment of joy for all such persons too. We will continue to help the community in whatever way we can,” said Nitesh Sharma, co-founder of Sangeeta’s Hand and Eyes Foundation (SHEF) and a counsellor with Punjab government’s helpline for persons with hearing and speech difficulties helpline during lockdown.
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