Special Correspondent

Seek complimentary rail passes for two members of 1975 WC winning team

Chimni and Kalaiah are the two players

NEW DELHI: A group of former hockey Olympians have appealed to Union Minister for Railways Mamata Banerjee to grant complimentary rail passes to a couple of members of the 1975 World Cup winning team who were left out under various schemes for this privilege.

“We are taking this opportunity to approach your good self knowing your genuine love for sports and welfare of sportsmen.

“We have been fighting for this case for a just request since 1996 but to no avail. We are once again taking up the case with lots of hope,” said Ajitpal Singh, captain of the World Cup winning team.

Other members of the appeal are Harcharan Singh, Ashok Diwan, B.P. Govinda and Varinder Singh.

Incidentally, Diwan is employed with the Railways and has joined the appeal for the sake of his teammates.

The signatories of the appeal recalled the gesture by former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao during an exhibition match at the National Stadium in 1995 on August 29, Dhyan Chand’s birthday.

The late Prime Minister had then announced that the Arjuna awardees, Olympic medallists and gold medallists of the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games will be provided free rail travel facility.

The facilities were promptly sanctioned by the government from February 1996 onwards.

The former greats, without belittling the achievements at the Asian or Commonwealth Games level, have argued that a review of the facilities was needed since the World Cup involved competition at the highest level.

“Omission of World Cup winners was due to an oversight,” said the statement.

The appeal pointed out that of the 16 players who were part of the World Cup winning team, nine players had received the passes by virtue of them being members of the bronze medal winning team of the 1972 Olympics.

Three members of the team have since passed away and effectively, the Railway Minister needs to grant just two passes to H.S. Chimni and B.P. Kalaiah, since the other three — Diwan, Onkar Singh and Leslie Fernandes — are employed by the Railways and are entitled for passes.

“We hope to get a positive response,” the appeal concluded.

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