Ramakant Achrekar denied state funeral, government rues communication gap
Despite being a Padma Shri and Dronacharya award-winning coach, Ramakant Achrekar was not given a state funeral
If Sridevi, and Ajit Wadekar could be honoured with state funerals, why wasn't Ramakant Achrekar? As criticism mounted over denying Achrekar — a Padma Shri and Dronacharya awardee — a state funeral, top ministers apologised for their government that was caught on the wrong foot.
Despite being a Padma Shri and Dronacharya award-winning coach, Ramakant Achrekar was not given a state funeral yesterday. It transpired later in the day that a state funeral is granted irrespective of the deceased personality being civilian award winner or no.
Though yesterday's funeral timing (10 am) was decided on Wednesday evening itself, the Housing Minister Prakash Mehta was told to attend the funeral only half an hour before the scheduled time.
"If they don't respect awards why did they honour Sir with the Padma Shri? Sir should have been given a state guard of honour. I think the authorities failed in their basic duty," former India player Chandrakant Pandittold mid-day at the funeral yesterday.
"Sir's contribution to Mumbai and our country was immense — it is beyond anybody's imagination. If you recently honoured the late Sridevi since she was a Padma Shri awardee and entertained fans, why not Achrekar sir? Plenty of his players entertained spectators the world over through their remarkable performances," Pandit stressed.
Professor Ram Shinde, protocol minister in the Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP-Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra, admitted that Sachin Tendulkar's coach should have been awarded a state funeral. "We will conduct a thorough inquiry. Stern action will be taken against those responsible for the negligence," Shinde told mid-day.
Mumbai stalwart Amol Muzumdar echoed Pandit's feeling. "Sir's contribution to this game was huge and for that he was rewarded with the Padma Shri. He should be given a state funeral," said Muzumdar.
State cabinet minister Mehta, who arrived at the Shivaji Park crematorium a few minutes before the final rites, was clueless as to why there was no state funeral. "I have to find out why a state funeral was denied to such a great personality. As the Sports Minister [Vinod Tawade], who is the Protocol Minister is out of the town, I was told to represent the state half an hour before the funeral. I came to know here that he [Achrekar] is a Padma Shri awardee. The state government is sorry about the communication gap," said Mehta.
When mid-day asked him who is responsible for the mess, Mehta said: "Achrekar produced a battery of Indian cricketers, he is a towering personality in Indian sports. When such a personality is honoured with the Padma Shri, I feel sorry [that there was no state funeral]. I will speak to the Chief Minister [Devendra Fadnavis] and inform him of the communication gap and we missed out on this [state funeral]."
With inputs from Sanjeev Shivadekar
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