Milkha Singh to be accorded state funeral, says Punjab CM Amarinder Singh
Milkha Singh will be given a state funeral by the Punjab government and a day's mourning will be observed as a mark of respect to the track legend, chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh said on Saturday. "Have directed that Late Milkha Singh Ji will be given a State Funeral by our Government. Also Punjab will observe one day of State mourning as a mark of respect to the departed legend," Amarinder Singh tweeted.
Milkha Singh will be cremated in a crematorium in Chandigarh's Sector 25 at 5pm on Saturday. Milkha Singh died aged 91 following a long battle with Covid-19. Singh, dubbed the "Flying Sikh", passed away at a hospital in Chandigarh late on Friday. Nirmal Kaur, former India volleyball captain and his wife, also died from Covid-19 earlier in the week.
Milkha Singh's family informed about the legend's death in a statement. "It is with extreme sadness that we would like to inform you that Milkha Singh Ji passed away. He fought hard but God has his ways and it was perhaps true love and companionship that both our mother Nirmal Ji and now Dad have passed away in a matter of 5 days," the family said.
They are survived by their son, former Asian Tour number one golfer Jeev Milkha Singh, and three daughters.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the tributes for Milkha Singh, saying India had "lost a colossal sportsperson, who captured the nation's imagination and had a special place in the hearts of countless Indians."
Former cricketer Yuvraj Singh and India spinner Harbhajan Singh also paid their condolences to the late athlete on Twitter. “Heartbreaking news of the passing away of Milkha Singh ji. His life and accomplishments will continue to inspire millions and in these memories, he will be eternal. My deepest condolences to Jeev and the family,” Yuraj Singh tweeted. “Very sad, heartbreaking to hear flying sikh Sardar Milkha singh ji is no more..” Harbhajan Singh said.
The track-and-field athlete became the first Indian man to reach the final of an Olympic athletics event when he was placed fourth in the 400m race at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome.
The Asian Games and Commonwealth Games champion, whose fourth-place finish at the 1960 Rome Olympics remains a benchmark for Indian athletics, was admitted to Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) in Chandigarh on June 3 after his oxygen levels dipped at home following treatment at Fortis Hospital, Mohali, for a week. The former Indian sprinter tested positive for Covid-19 last month.
PGIMER said in a statement that Milkha Singh was admitted to the ICU of its Covid-19 hospital on June 3. "He was treated for COVID there till June 13 when after putting up a valiant battle with COVID, Milkha Singh Ji tested negative. However, due to post- Covid complications, he was shifted out of COVID Hospital to medical ICU. But despite the best of efforts by the medical team, Milkha Singh Ji could not be retrieved from his critical condition and after a brave fight, he left for his heavenly abode at 11.30 pm on 18th June 2021 here at PGIMER," the hospital said.
Milkha Singh was awarded the Padma Shri, India's fourth-highest civilian honour, in recognition of his sporting achievements.