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Monday, August 02, 2021

Adieu, Milkha Singh

At 4.30 pm, the funeral procession of Milkha Singh started from Sector 8, Chandigarh, to Sector 25, Chandigarh.

Written by Jagpreet Singh Sandhu | Chandigarh |
Updated: June 20, 2021 8:45:38 am
Milkha Singh’s son Jeev Milkha Singh in front of the pyre at the cremation ground in Sector 25, Chandigarh, on Saturday. (Express photo by Jasbir Malhi)

“Today, Milkhaji is not among us, but we will fulfil his last wish of India winning an Olympic gold in athletics,” said Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju as he paid tribute to Flying Sikh Milkha Singh, who was cremated with full state honours on Saturday.

Rijiju also handed over a condolence letter from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Jeev Milkha Singh.

In fact, people from all walks of life gathered to pay tributes to the sporting legend. Since morning, dignitaries and politicians, including Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, former Punjab cabinet minister Bikram Singh Majithia, Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu, president of Shiromani Akali Dal (Democratic) Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, former Cabinet minister Daljeet Singh Cheema, Haryana MLA Gian Chand Gupta, AAP leader Raghav Chadha, Punjab Sports Minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi and other Haryana and Punjab government officials visited the residence of Milkha Singh to pay condolences to the family.

The well-wishers of Milkha Singh family and sportsmen, including golfers, caddies and their family members, visited too.

At 4.30 pm, the funeral procession of Milkha Singh started from Sector 8, Chandigarh, to Sector 25, Chandigarh. While Milkha’s son Jeev Milkha Singh was in the funeral vehicle, daughters Dr Mona Singh, Sonia Sanwalka and grandson Harjai Milkha Singh followed closely behind in personal cars. The family put a photo of Milkha Singh’s wife Nirmal Milkha Singh, who had died last Sunday, in his hands.

A photo of his wife Nirmal Milkha Singh, who passed away due to Covid complications last Sunday, in the hands of Milkha Singh, before his last rites. (Express photo by Jasbir Malhi)

At the cremation ground, more than a hundred people, including Sports Minister Rijiju, UT Administrator V P Singh Badnore and Haryana Sports Minister Sandeep Singh, were present. Jeev Milkha Singh lit the funeral pyre.

The police contingent of Chandigarh and the Punjab reversed arms and sounded the last post. They gave a gun salute as well.

Fans too join

An athlete and a labourer, Chanan Singh, 34, resident of Phallewal village, Ludhiana, reached Chandigarh and waited for hours to catch the last glimpse of Milkha Singh.

“I am an athlete, and have been participating in marathons for the past 22 years. I have participated in village-level tournaments. Milkha Singh was my inspiration. I once came to meet him at his residence, and he gave me Rs 5,000,” said Chanan Singh.

Anil Kumar, an autorickshaw driver from Mauli Jagran, paid tribute to the Flying Sikh by putting his picture on his autorickshaw. “I always wanted to meet Milkhaji, but that couldn’t be possible. Since I know that he was the pride of our nation, I tried to pay tribute to him with whatever I had,” said Anil Kumar.

An artist and a graphic designer, Varun Tandon, 35, created Milkha’s photo from a feather of sparrow.“Since Milkhaji was a Flying Sikh, I created his photo with a feather of sparrow, which I found on the roof of my house,” he said.

Punjab Chief Minister announces Milkha Singh Chair

Speaking to media persons outside the residence of Milkha Singh, Captain Amarinder Singh said, “It is a great loss for us. The young generations will get inspired by him. We are going to have Milkha Singh Chair at the sports university of Patiala.”

Tributes from Haryana too

Expressing his condolences on the sad demise of the Flying Sikh, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said, “Flying Sikh Milkha Singh will always live in the hearts of every Indian for his exceptional accomplishments on and off the field and his humane personality will always be remembered.”

Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala and Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij too expressed their condolences.

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