Chandigarh, 19th June 2021: India’s great sprinter Milkha Singh passed away late on Friday night at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER). There is a wave of mourning in the whole country due to the news of his death.
Earlier on Sunday, his wife Nirmal Saini (85) passed away during COVID related treatment at a private hospital in Mohali.
Milkha was admitted to the hospital after being found corona infected. His health had improved in the last few days but suddenly he had difficulty breathing after the oxygen level dropped and the news of the death of this great personality came late in the night.
Milkha Singh breathed his last at 11.30 pm on Friday night. Milkha, 91, was found corona positive on 17 May. This great Indian sprinter is known worldwide as Flying Sikh. Milkha had done the feat of winning the first gold medal in the Commonwealth for India. Apart from this, this great sprinter also had won four gold medals in the Asian Games. Milkha, who missed India’s bronze medal in the Olympics, is known as India’s greatest and brightest athlete.
Milkha Singh was born on 20 November 1929. He was born in a Sikh Rajput family of Rathore clan. His birthplace was Govindpura, a village 10 km (6.25 mi) from Muzaffargarh city in Punjab Province, British India (now Muzaffargarh District, Pakistan). He was one of 15 siblings, eight of whom died before the Partition of India. He was orphaned during the Partition when his parents, a brother and two sisters were killed by Muslim mobs in the violence that ensued. He witnessed these killings.
Escaping the troubles in Punjab, where killings of Hindus and Sikhs were continuing, by moving to Delhi, in 1947, Singh lived for a short time with the family of his married sister and was briefly imprisoned at Tihar jail for travelling on a train without a ticket. His sister, Ishvar, sold some jewellery to obtain his release. He spent some time at a refugee camp in Purana Qila and at a resettlement colony in Shahdara, both in Delhi.
Singh became disenchanted with his life and considered becoming a dacoit but was instead persuaded by a brother, Malkhan, to attempt recruitment to the Indian Army. He successfully gained entrance on his fourth attempt, in 1951, and while stationed at the Electrical Mechanical Engineering Centre in Secunderabad he was introduced to athletics. He had run the 10 km distance to and from school as a child and was selected by the army for special training in athletics after finishing sixth in a compulsory cross-country run for new recruits. Singh has acknowledged how the army introduced him to sport, saying that “I came from a remote village, I didn’t know what running was, or the Olympics”.
He met Nirmal Kaur, a former captain of the Indian women’s volleyball team in Ceylon in 1955; they married in 1962 and had three daughters and a son, the golfer Jeev Milkha Singh. In 1999, they adopted the seven-year-old son of Havildar Bikram Singh, who had died in the Battle of Tiger Hill.
Nirmal died on 13 June 2021 due to COVID-19 in Mohali.Follow Punekar News: