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PM pays tributes to Umrao Singh

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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today condoled the passing away of former Punjab Minister and well-known sports adminstrator Umrao Singh in Jalandhar this morning.

"It is with profound grief that I learnt of the sad demise of your husband Sardar Umrao Singh. Sardar Umrao Singh was a dear friend and a valued colleague. His passing away is a great personal loss for me. He will always be remembered for his fine human qualities and his commitment to the cause of uplift of the poor and the underprivileged," he said in a message to Mr Umrao Singh's wife.

Dr Singh recalled that Mr Umrao Singh had served both the Congress party and the country with dedication and commitment.

"He distinguished himself as Member of the Legislative Assembly of Punjab, Minister in the Punjab Government and as Member of Parliament. Sardar Umrao Singh was also an avid sports lover who was associated with many sports bodies. He made an important contribution to the organisation of the 1982 Asian Games in Delhi.

"Sardar Umrao Singh's passing away has left behind a void which will be very difficult to fill," he added.

Mr Umrao Singh, who was president of the Athletics Federation of India, died this morning at a private hospital in Jalandhar after a prolonged illness. He was 85 and is survived by his wife and three daughters.

He had served as a minister in Punjab under Giani Zail Singh, Darbara Singh and Beant Singh. He was elected to the Lok Sabha in a bye-election in 1994 but lost in 1998 to Mr Inder Kumar Gujral.

In the area of sports adminstration, Mr Umrao Singh had served as general secretary of the Indian Olympic Association and as president of the Punjab Olympic Association. But he will be remembered most for his role in organising the ninth Asian Games in Delhi in 1982, for which he was later honoured by the government with the Padma Bhushan.

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