Son and ace golfer Jeev Milkha Singh lit the funeral pyre of ‘Flying Sikh’ Milkha Singh
ICONIC sprinter Milkha Singh was on Saturday cremated with full State honours here, marking the end of an era in which his pioneering accomplishments on the track galvanised a newly-Independent India. Milkha, who was 91, was bid a tearful adieu in the presence of his family and dignitaries, including Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju. ‘The Flying Sikh’, died on Friday night due to COVID-19. His son and ace golfer Jeev Milkha Singh lit the funeral pyre. Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore, Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, Haryana’s Sports Minister Sandeep Singh also 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. Milkha was also given a gun salute. The Punjab Government had declared a one-day State mourning and a holiday as a mark of respect to the legend. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had earlier in the day said the Punjab Government will accord State funeral to Milkha Singh. Earlier, the funeral procession started from Milkha’s Sector 8 residence. His body was carried in a bedecked vehicle, with common people turning up along the short route to the Sector 25 cremation ground to pay their last respects to the legend. Milkha died on Friday night after a month-long battle with COVID-19.
He had lost his former national volleyball captain wife Nirmal Kaur to the same ailment on Sunday. The couple is survived by son and three daughters. Padma Shri Milkha Singh was a 4-time Asian Games gold medallist and 1958 Commonwealth Games champion. His greatest performance was the fourth-place in 400m final of 1960 Rome Olympics. His timing of 45.6 sec at Rome remained the national record for 38 years before Paramjeet Singh broke it in 1998. He represented India in 1956 and 1964 Olympics and was bestowed the Padma Shri in 1959.