Nirmal Kaur with Milkha Singh (File photo)
Nirmal Kaur with Milkha Singh (File photo)

Nirmal Kaur, Milkha Singh's wife, dies after fighting Covid-19 for 3 weeks

  • Nirmal, 85, breathed her last at Fortis hospital in Mohali on Sunday,
PUBLISHED ON JUN 13, 2021 09:23 PM IST

While Flying Sikh Milkha Singh battles for life at intensive care unit at Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) in Chandigarh, his wife Nirmal Kaur lost battle to Covid-19 almost after three weeks of contracting the deadly virus. Nirmal, 85, breathed her last at Fortis hospital in Mohali on Sunday. 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 owing to Covid-19 and she was put on HFNC (high flow nasal cannula) and NIV (non-invasive ventilator) intermittently since then. She was stable but her condition had not improved. She was admitted to the hospital in last week of May after she had developed Covid-19 pneumonia. At that time, 91-year-old Milkha was also admitted at the same Mohali hospital. When Milkha’s health improved, on his family’s insistence, he was sent home, however, ailing Nirmal stayed back for further treatment. Their son and India’s ace golfer along with sister doctor Mona had been co-ordinating with the doctors in the hospital.

Her family released a statement later on Sunday, “We are deeply saddened to inform you that Mrs Nirmal Milkha Singh passed away after a valiant battle against COVID at 4 PM today. Former Director of Sports for Women in the Punjab Government and former captain of the Indian Women’s National Volleyball Team, Nirmal ji fought a valiant battle till the very end. A back bone of the Milkha Family, she was 85 years old. It is tragic that the Flying Sikh Milkha Singh ji could not attend the cremation which was conducted this evening itself as he is still in the ICU himself. The family has expressed its grateful thanks to everyone for their solidarity and prayers right through the battle which gave them the strength to face it bravely.”

As a couple, Milkha and Nirmal ruled the roost and commanded love and respect from all corners in Chandigarh. With Nirmal leaving the world, the world lost a gem and spirit of Milkha household.

Legendary Milkha’s love-story with Nirmal goes way back to 1960s. Nirmal was born as in Sheikhupura, Pakistan, on October 8, 1938. She was captain of the Punjab volleyball team on three separate occasions. In 1955, she also went on tour to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) as part of India volleyball team. There she met young Milkha. However, their friendship blossomed while both were deputed as sports administrators in Chandigarh in 1960 and 1961. While Milkha joined Punjab administration in Chandigarh as deputy director of sports, Nirmal was director sports for women. Milkha married Nirmal back in 1962. She had a Political Science Master’s degree in 1958 from Punjab University. She is known to have worn ‘Salwar Kameez’ instead of shorts or skirts during the national as well as international volleyball tournaments.

Nirmal was a hard-task master as a director sports for women and responsible for bolstering the sports infrastructure in Chandigarh. She retired in the early 90’s.

“Madam has played a huge 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. Her contribution towards developing sports complexes and playgrounds in Chandigarh, including the hockey and tennis stadiums, has been significant. The standard of sports also improved. Besides national meets, she organised an international level regatta and hockey championship. I remember Chandigarh successfully hosted Asian level rowing and water-sports tournament in 1989. She had a heart of gold. Always very kind towards poor athletes,” said Vijaypal Singh, secretary Volleyball federation of India and also secretary of Chandigarh Volleyball Association. Nirmal remains to be Patron-in-Chief of Chandigarh Volleyball Association. She first captained India women in 1955 during a tour to Russia.

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