Chandigarh: Hockey legend Balbir Singh Sr. has claimed that Sports Authority of India has misplaced his priceless memoribilia, which inculdes his Olympic blazer, medals and rare pictures he had donated to SAI in 1985.
The tripple Olympci gold medallist said that he had donated his collection to A S Talwar, the then SAI secretary but when he inquired about them before the 2012 London Olympics, SAI officials claimed ignorance.
"I have donated everything I had except Olympic medals and Padamshri award to SAI. They told me at that time that it will be housed in the SAI sports museum to be built at Jawahar Lal Nehru stadium in New Delhi but it never happened," Balbir told PTI.
"That included Melbourne Olympic blazer, 24 medals including Tokyo Asiad (1958) silver, some rare snaps with India's first Governor General C Rajgopalachari, first President Dr Rajendra Prasad, first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Mrs Indira Gandhi," the gold medal winner of London (1948), Helsinki (1952) and Melbourne (1956) Olympics claimed.
He said that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) wanted the Melbourne Games blazer to be a part of official London Olympic exhibition where he was the only Indian amongst 16 chosen Olympic legends across of modern Olympic history. "That is when my grandson contacted SAI to get that blazer as I had nothing with me apart from Olympic medals. But SAI officials said that they don't know about the whereabouts of my treasure so I sent only Olympic medals to London which were showcased there," said the ace centre forward, whose world record for most goals scored by an individual in an in the men's hockey final of Olympics still remains unbeaten. Balbir scored five goals in India's 6-1 victory over the Netherlands in the gold medal game of the 1952 Games.
His daughter Sushbir Bhoomia said that they have written to then Sports minister Ajay Maken and SAI officials but did not get a positive reply. "We wrote to Mr. Ajay Maken who reffered this to SAI. We got a letter from then SAI secretary Gopal Krishna on 18th July, 2012 which says that they have checked up the availability of blazer both at SAI NIS, Patiala and Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, New Delhi but the blazer was not available in the inventory of both the places. They also said that it was confirmed that this thing not with SAI," she said.
Asked about the matter, SAI centre Patiala's Regional Director S S Roy said,"I am unaware of this as I have joined recently but I will definitely check."
Sushbir said she wants to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to seek justice for her father. "We have never mentioned this to anyone but enough is enough. My father has been tolerating injustice for long. Players with less achievements have been getting awards and rewards but he never complained. The only award he got till date is Padamshri and that too in 1957," she said.
"If you can't give him anything for his achievements, please don't rob him of his priceless possessions. His medals and blazer not only are the legacy of our family but they are also national heritage which will inspire future generations. I urge PM Narendra Modi to intervene in this matter."
Meanwhile, Balbir Sr has wished good luck to Indian hockey teams for the Incheon Asian Games. "I want the team to come back with gold medal as medals are the symbol of hard work and dedication you have shown on the field for your country," he said.