Kapil Dev set to fulfil Indian migrant's last wish

Last Updated 25 July 2010, 12:04 IST

Kapil, who will leave tomorrow for India with the ashes, said he was very honoured to come on behalf of Pooran's family for the purpose.

"I will leave tomorrow with the ashes along with his family member, Kapil told PTI today.
Moved by the story of the childless hawker whose ashes had been held by a funeral home for the last 63 years in the hope that relatives would one day claim them, Kapil travelled to Warrnambool in Victoria to collect the remains.

Over hundred of people from Melbourne's Sikh community joined by many others at the cemetery to witness the handover ceremony to Kapil and Singh's great nephew Harmel Uppal, a 47-year-old father of two who works in the clothing industry in the UK.

"It's an amazing story and has moved my heart. I was very touched by the Australian people...they have a soft heart ....there is a very human touch here. and I am very grateful to people here," Kapil said.

"This is definitely different to anything in my life I have ever done. It's one of the best, emotional stories with a happy ending," the legendary cricketer said, adding "This is the bridge between the people to say you can love each other."

In 1899, as a 30-year-old Singh left his family in Bilga, a village in Punjab, to go to Australia. He worked as a hawker, selling goods from his horse-drawn wagon, travelling from one country town to the other.

Singh was cremated in June 1947 with his relatives in India being notified of his death by telegram. Ever since, Singh's ashes have been kept safe by an Australian family funeral company Guyett's Funerals in Warrnambool as his last wish was that his ashes be returned to India and immersed in the Ganges.

Uppal, who came to know about the story through the media in the UK said: "It’s hard to explain the emotions."

"It’s fantastic being here — so significant to our family. I think this will be the start of many visits by Indian people here," he said

"I first heard about him when I was about five or six and remember being told he moved to Australia when he was young," Uppal said.

"A few months ago family members told us there was a lot of media interest in the village and we later learnt about the story of great uncle and his ashes.
"It was because of his savings he sent to India the rest of his family’s poverty was lifted," a grateful Uppal said.

Regarding the spate of attacks on Indians reported in the media here over the last one year, Kapil underlined the need not to "blow it up".

"Bad things can take place in every part of the world, so whatever has happened in Australia in the past let's not blow it up," Kapil said, adding there was a role for media to spread the positive stories around in a bid to bridge the gap between the two nations after the outbreak of students attack in Victoria.

"Lets send the good news," he said. "If I can bridge the two countries and improve the relationship, then I will feel very happy," the former Indian captain said.

Uppal underlined the need to bridge the differences and spread harmony among the people.

"Despite our differences, we are all one today," Uppal said, adding "The world is as big or small as we can make it. This story is testament to that."

The ashes will fly with Kapil and then reach the village and then on to Haridwar to cast the ashes into the Ganges, fulfilling singh's last wish.

(Published 25 July 2010, 11:57 IST)

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