Milkha laid to rest with full state honours, PM leads tributes as nation mourns - GulfToday

Milkha laid to rest with full state honours, PM leads tributes as nation mourns


Relatives carry the body of Milkha Singh during the cremation ceremony in Chandigarh on Saturday. AFP

Chandigarh on Saturday bid a tearful farewell to ‘Flying Sikh’ Milkha Singh (91), who passed away at the PGI Hospital here after a prolonged battle with Covid-19 late on Friday night.

Milkha Singh was cremated with full state honours at the Sector 25 cremation ground here with a police contingent according gun salute by reversing arms and sounding the last post to the legendary athlete, who held the 400m national record for 38 years, while his Asian record in the same event remained unmatched for 26 years.

His son and internationally acclaimed golfer Jeev Milkha Singh lit the funeral pyre.

Milkha Singh breathed his last late on Friday night after a long battle with Covid-related complications, just five days after his Nirmal Kaur lost her battle against the dreaded virus.

Punjab Governor VP Singh Badnore, Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh earlier visited his residence in Sector 8 here to offer their condolence.  The Chief Minister handed over a photo of the late athlete with Jawaharlal Nehru to Jeev Milkha Singh.
MilkhaPotraitAn art teacher holds a painting of Milkha Singh at his studio in Mumbai. AFP

The Punjab government had earlier declared one-day state mourning and a public holiday as a mark of respect to the legendary athlete.

Earlier in the day, Amarinder Singh had announced that the Punjab government would accord a state funeral to Milkha Singh.

The Chief Minister also announced a Milkha Singh Chair at the Maharaja Bhupinder Singh Punjab Sports University in Patiala in memory of the legendary athlete.

Milkha Singh’s death is a mammoth loss to the entire nation and a sad moment for all, he said.

Recalling the declaration of a national holiday by then Prime Minister late Jawaharlal Nehru after Milkha Singh defeated champion Pakistan sprinter Abdul Khaliq in Lahore in 1960, the Chief Minister said he wished he could have also declared a national holiday today.

But Punjab mourned the legend with a state holiday, with flags flying at half mast, he added. The 1960 win in Lahore was a momentous occasion for Milkha Singh.

It was after that victory that then Pakistan President General Ayub Khan had nicknamed Milkha Singh as ‘Flying Sikh’, said Amarinder Singh while interacting informally with the media outside the athlete’s residence.

Condoling the demise of Milkha Singh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the country has lost a colossal sportsperson.

“In the passing away of Shri Milkha Singh Ji, we have lost a colossal sportsperson, who captured the nation’s imagination and had a special place in the hearts of countless Indians. His inspiring personality endeared himself to millions. Anguished by his passing away,” Modi said in a tweet.

The Indian cricket team that took the field for the World Test Championship final against New Zealand is wearing black armbands in memory of sprint king Milkha Singh.

“The Indian Cricket Team is wearing black armbands in remembrance of Milkha Singhji, who passed away due to COVID-19,” said a statement from the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

Actor Farhan Akhtar, who played Milkha Singh in the film “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag”, has mourned the death of the legendary Indian athlete.

Farhan posted a picture on Instagram posing with Milkha. The actor penned a note saying that he refuses to accept that Milkha Singh is no more.

Farhan wrote: “Dearest Milkha ji, A part of me is still refusing to accept that you are no more. Maybe it’s the stubborn side I inherited from you.. the side that when it sets its mind on something, just never gives up.”


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