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|August 20, 2001||
Milkha plans to meet PresidentOnkar Singh
Not content with writing a protest letter to Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Uma Bharti, against the government's decision to confer the Arjuna award on him for lifetime achievement, 'Flying Sikh' Milkha Singh is now planning to meet President K R Narayanan.
"I am considering suggestions from friends and well-wishers, to write letters to the President of India and Prime Minister Vajpayee, drawing their attention to the manner in which Arjuna awards are distributed. I am even planning to take a few Arjuna awardees to meet President K R Narayanan," Milkha Singh told rediff.com over phone from his residence in Chandigarh.
The icon of the Indian athletics is upset over being clubbed by the sports ministry along with, what he says, nonentities for the prestigious award.
Meanwhile, Sports Authority of India deputy director Rachna Govil, whose inclusion in the awards list seems to be the bone of contention with Milkha Singh, refused to react to the controversy, saying she could not say anything as she is a government official.
However, she did clarify that she took part in two invitational international championships at Hissar and Ludhiana, and participated in a 1,500 metre race.
"I won a bronze medal at the Hissar international competition, where teams from the USSR and other countries took part. I can show you my certificates. Besides I equalled the national record in shooting, by scoring 381," Govil told rediff.com.
SAI executive director O P Bhatia, who is also a member of the Arjuna awards selection committee, explained how the list of awardees was finalised.
"I cannot say anything more then telling you that Rachna Govil has participated in the nationals. We got more then 281 entries in the first lot. These entries were received from various channels that include state governments, state associations/federations, national associations/federations, the Indian Olympic Association. Later, 19 more entries were received," he said.
He added: "We held four meetings, in which the names of the deserving athletes were shortlisted. Their records were checked with the respective federations/associations, both at the national and state level. Wrong entries were struck off, but the name of the concerned sportsperson was still considered. We also had a representative from the Arjuna awardees' association -- Yashwant Singh, who was present in place of Bishen Singh Bedi. The names were finalized only after individual members had expressed their opinions."
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