Sprint legend Milkha Singh cremated with full state honour in Chandigarh

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Milkha Singh Last Rites (Image: Screengrab from a video tweeted by @ANI)
Milkha Singh Last Rites (Image: Screengrab from a video tweeted by @ANI)

Chandigarh : Iconic sprinter Milkha Singh has been cremated with full state honours on Saturday evening in Chandigarh. He died on Friday night after losing his battle to coronavirus complications.

Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, Punjab Governor and Chandigarh Union Territory Administrator VP Singh Badnore and Haryana Sports Minister Sandeep Singh were present at the cremation ground to bid a final adieu to the legend.

Earlier on the day, Punjab Government had announced a public holiday as a mark of respect to the Olympian. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also announced a Milkha Singh Chair at Sports University in Patiala in memory of the great athlete.

The Chief Minister, who had gone to the Padma Shri recipient's Chandigarh residence, recalled the declaration of a national holiday in 1960 when Milkha Singh defeated Pakistan champion Abdul Khaliq in Lahore. An emotional Amarinder Singh said that he wished "he could have also declared a national holiday today". "But Punjab would mourn the legend with a state holiday, with flags flying at half mast," he added.

It was after the 1960 victory that then Pakistan President General Ayub Khan had nicknamed Milkha Singh as "Flying Sikh", he said.

The 91-year-old sprinter had tested positive for coronavirus on May 19; firstly he was kept under home isolation at his Chandigarh residence after revealing that he was asymptomatic. However, a couple of days later on May 24, he was admitted to the ICU of Mohali's Fortis hospital due to "COVID pneumonia". He was then moved to PGIMER in Chandigarh on June 3.

Milkha Singh passed away four days after his wife died due to coronavirus complications.