Milkha Singh cremated with state honours

Chandigarh, June 19

Iconic sprinter Milkha Singh was on Saturday cremated with full state honours here, marking the end of an era in which his pioneering accomplishments on the track galvanised a newly-independent India.

Milkha, who was 91, was bid a tearful adieu. His son and ace golfer Jeev Milkha Singh lit the pyre. Punjab Governor and Chandigarh Administrator VP Singh Badnore, Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal and Haryana’s Sports Minister Sandeep Singh were among the dignitaries who attended the last rites. A police contingent reversed arms and sounded the last post in the sprinter’s honour. Milkha was also given a gun salute.

The Punjab Government declared a one-day state mourning and a holiday as a mark of respect to the legend. A wreath was laid on behalf of PM Narendra Modi. Wreaths were also laid on behalf of the Army. The body was carried in a bedecked vehicle. People turned up along the route to the cremation ground to pay their last respects.

Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said Milkha Singh’s last wish was to see India win an Olympic gold in athletics. “Today, Milkha ji is not among us, but we will fulfil his wish,” he said.

Athletics Federation of India Secretary Ravinder Chaudhary attended the last rites. Chandigarh Athletics Association (CAA), of which he was the founder president, also paid tribute. The Padma Shri awardee, who was nicknamed ‘The Flying Sikh’ for his achievements, is survived by Jeev and three daughters.The legendary athlete was a four-time Asian Games gold medallist and the 1958 Commonwealth Games champion. But his greatest performance remained the fourth-place finish in the 400m final of the 1960 Rome Olympics. — TNS

India pays tributes to Flying Sikh

Demand for Bharat Ratna for the icon

As the nation mourned the death, social media exploded on Saturday with Bharat Ratna demand for the track and field icon. TNS

Milkha Singh Chair at Patiala sports varsity

Punjab CM Amarinder Singh announced Milkha Singh Chair at Patiala sports university. “The flag will fly at half mast,” he said. TNS

Cricket team wears black armbands

Southampton: The Indian cricket team on Saturday wore black armbands as a mark of respect to the Flying Sikh. PTI

Paramjit remembers his role model

Paramjit Singh, who in 1998 broke Milkha Singh’s 400m national record, 38 years after the latter set it in the Rome Olympics for a fourth place finish, recalled: “Milkha Singh ji was kind and generous. I was invited for a dinner at his place after I broke his record”. PTI

Randhawa recalls race of his life

It was the race of his life but at the end of it, Milkha Singh was distraught. At the 1960 Rome Olympics, he missed the podium by 0.1 second, an “unforgettable heartache he carried for the rest of his life,” recalled hurdler Gurbachan S Randhawa. PTI

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