Legendary sprinter Milkha Singh, who died due to COVID-19 complications was cremated with full state honours on 19th June. His son and ace golfer Jeev Milkha Singh lit the pyre. The 49-year-old, along with his sisters, Dr Mona and Sonia, and wife Kudrat mourned as Milkha was cremated with full state honours. Milkha’s grandchildren Harjai, Amaan and Amaanat were also present along with other relatives, but his third daughter, Aleeza, could not make it from the US.
Jeev had earlier penned an emotional post for his late parents on Instagram, saying, “The relationship between a child and their parents never changes. It doesn’t matter how old you get or where in the world you end up living or how much you have accomplished in life. The relationship remains simple; it’s one of unconditional love.”
“As parents, you have been the strength and backbone of our family since as far as I can remember. Together, you have nurtured and supported each one of us with so much love and care, while somehow inspiring an entire nation to dream big and believe that anything is possible if you work hard and dedicate yourself. You have touched so many lives over the years and the impact you have made on this nation will long be remembered. Being around you has taught me how to be a better father, brother, husband and has made me into a more compassionate and empathetic human being. I love you with all of my heart mom and dad. It’s not going to be easy without you, but I know you’ll be up there, together, protecting us as you have been all our lives,” He added.
Milkha was laid on pyre with a photograph of his late wife (who had also died 5 days before him due to post COVID complications) tucked in his hands.
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. Prof Jagat Ram, Director of PGIMER where Milkha was admitted was also present.
A police contingent reversed arms and sounded the last post in the sprinter’s honour. The Flying Sikh was also given a gun salute.
Declaring a one-day state mourning and a holiday as a mark of respect to the legend, CM Amarinder Singh said that he wished “he could have also declared a national holiday today”. “But Punjab would mourn the legend with a state holiday, with flags flying at half mast,” he added.
A wreath was laid on behalf of PM Narendra Modi and one on behalf of 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.
Milkha Singh was a four-time Asian Games gold medalist. He also won a gold medal at the 1958 Commonwealth Games in Cardiff. He regretted his narrow miss on an Olympic medal in 400m final of the 1960 Rome Games. He finished fourth in that race in a time of 45.73 seconds. It remained a national record for nearly 40 years before Paramjeet Singh surpassed it in 1998. Milkha Singh also represented India in the 1956 and 1964 Olympics. He was awarded with Padma Shri in 1959.