The pride is palpable among Border Security Force (BSF) personnel at its Jalandhar headquarters for the western border, and the reason is close to the eastern extreme of India. One of the footballers from the BSF team here is now the chief minister of Manipur.
Officials here are busy finding more history and photographs of N Biren Singh, BJP’s first chief minister of Manipur who took oath on March 16. “Biren was posted in BSF as a constable,” Suraj Bhan Handa, the present coach of the team, said.
As per information from the BSF, Biren Singh came to Jalandhar in 1981 after he cleared the inter-frontier level in the force. His position was ‘right fullback’ on the field. Other officers say that as part of the team in Jalandhar, he also won the Durand Cup in 1981.
Biren’s batchmates now reside in various parts of the nation. They remember the CM as a “jolly” and “fun-loving” person who was always popular.
Pardeep Kumar, who is a retired BSF employee and is now living in Siliguri, told HT that Biren and he stayed in the same room. “We would visit markets and go to watch movies,” said Kumar.
He added, “Biren had interest in politics at that time too, but his becoming a chief minister is something we batchmates are proud of.” He recalled that Biren Singh had a “very good diet” and was fond of rice. “He often cooked for himself.”
Vishwa Miter, who at present is the coach for Jammu Sports Council, said Biren was witty too. “We always talked to him in Punjabi, and he would understand little at first. With time, he started understanding the language.” Shyam Kumar Sharma, one of the coaches of Biren who now resides in Australia, said over phone that he was a great player and a true sportsperson.
As for the old pictures, the BSF officials are planning to get them framed and send to Biren Singh, the constable who is now CM.