Sports has a unique way of uniting people in their hour of need irrespective of their caste, creed, religion and status.
Earlier this week, cricketer Harbhajan Singh, offered aid and assistance to former Asian Games gold medallist Hakam Bhattal, who is currently battling for his life at a private hospital in Sangrur, Punjab, after suffering multiple liver and kidney ailments.
Bhattal’s condition came to light after his wife pleaded with the government for financial assistance, claiming they had spent all their savings and the hospital was directing them to leave.
Following this, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, the Union sports minister, who is a former athlete himself, released a sum of Rs 10 lakh to the family for medical treatment on Monday.
I have ordered an immediate release of ₹10 lakhs for the medical treatment of Havildar Hakam Bhattal. Officers of @IndiaSports @Media_SAI have visited him, and we are keeping track of the situation. I wish him a quick recovery.
We are proud to stand by our heroes. https://t.co/9jQdURF8W0
— Rajyavardhan Rathore (@Ra_THORe) July 31, 2018
On reading the news, Harbhajan sought Bhattal’s contact details, reached out to him and his near and dear ones and offered all assistance in whatever capacity once he is discharged from the hospital.
Can u send me his contact no plz https://t.co/QvRmxg7dBX
— Harbhajan Turbanator (@harbhajan_singh) July 30, 2018
“Bhattal is not only a gold medallist but a Dhyan Chand Awardee. It pained me to read that Bhattal’s wife had to admit they were not well off and that the government should help those who bring glory for the country,” said Harbhajan, speaking to Telegraph.
Nonetheless, the former Team India off spinner was at pains to explain that he isn’t doing this for publicity, but out of a sense of insaaniyat (humanity).
“Please don’t write in a manner which suggests I am projecting myself. Nothing like that. However, it’s a fact that I try and do what I can out of insaaniyat… Insaaniyat ke nate kuch farz bante hain… [there are some duties one must carry out of humanity]” he told the publication.
“Obviously, there’s a limit to what I’m able to do, but when something touches my heart, I offer a hand of help without looking at the person’s religion or caste. We are, after all, all humans,” Harbhajan Singh added.
Bhattal joined the Indian Army in 1972 and served in the 6 Sikh Regiment. He won the gold medal in the 20km men’s race walk event, during the 1978 Bangkok Asian Games. In 2008, former President Pratibha Patil awarded him the prestigious Dhyan Chand Award.
Before the sports ministry offered their assistance, Bhattal’s wife had complained of the treatment meted out to former athletes who have done the country proud.
“Athletes are taken care of only if they are playing and winning gold medals. No one even asks about them thereafter. His case is the best example. In such a situation, they should’ve helped us,” she said, after which the Sports Ministry finally stepped in to help the champion.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)