A file picture of Nirmal Kaur with husband Milkha Singh .
A file picture of Nirmal Kaur with husband Milkha Singh .

Covid complications: Milkha’s wife Nirmal Kaur passes away at 85

Even as legendary Milkha Singh battles for life in the intensive care unit (ICU) at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, his wife Nirmal Kaur, 85, lost battle to Covid-19 almost three weeks after contracting the virus
By Shalini Gupta, Chandigarh
UPDATED ON JUN 14, 2021 01:55 AM IST

Even as legendary Milkha Singh battles for life in the intensive care unit (ICU) at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, his wife Nirmal Kaur, 85, lost battle to Covid-19 almost three weeks after contracting the virus. Nirmal breathed her last at Fortis hospital in Mohali on Sunday. The cremation took place in the evening.

Former captain of the Indian women’s volleyball team, Nirmal’s health deteriorated a few days after she was admitted to the hospital. There was a drop in her oxygen level, and she was put on HFNC (high flow nasal cannula) and NIV (non-invasive ventilator) intermittently since then.

Milkha family released a statement on Sunday: “We are deeply saddened to inform you that Mrs Nirmal Milkha Singh passed away at 4pm today after fighting a valiant battle against Covid-19. Former director of sports for women in the Punjab government, Nirmal ji was the backbone of the family. It is tragic that Milkha Singh ji could not attend the cremation as he is still in the ICU.”

Milkha and Nirmal’s love-story goes way back to 1960s. In 1955, Nirmal went to Sri Lanka as part of the India volleyball team where she met Milkha for the first time. Their friendship blossomed into a love affair when both were deputed as sports administrators in Chandigarh in 1960-61. While Milkha joined Punjab administration in Chandigarh as deputy director of sports, Nirmal was state’s director sports for women. Milkha married Nirmal in 1962. She bagged her master’s degree in political science in 1958 from Punjab University. She is known to have worn ‘salwar kameez’ instead of shorts or skirts while playing national as well as international volleyball tournaments. She retired from service in the early 90s.

“Madam has played a big role in building Chandigarh’s sports infrastructure. The Sector 42, Sector 7 and Sector 46 sports complexes were built during her tenure. She made sure Chandigarh had the best sports facilities. She had a heart of gold. Always very kind towards poor athletes,” said Vijaypal Singh, secretary Volleyball Federation of India, who is also secretary of Chandigarh Volleyball Association.

Meanwhile, Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh condoled the death of Nirmal Milkha Singh.

In his condolence message, the CM said, “I am saddened to learn about the death of one of the iconic volleyball players who brought several laurels for the country,” adding, she had rendered remarkable services as director of sports for women. Punjab sports minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi also condoled the death.

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