Subedar Murlikant Petkar is known as India’s first Paralympics gold Medallist. During the 1972 Summer Paralympics in Heidelberg (held in August 1972), he was the only one to receive a medal and made Indian proud by winning Gold Medal for the country. He won a gold medal in 50-meter freestyle swimming event.
Who is Subedar Murlikant Rajaram Petkar?
Murlikant Petkar was born on 1st of November 1947 in Peth Islampur, Sangli district of Maharastra. He was having a true sportsmanship since childhood when he participated in numerous school level sports activities. Before getting disables, in 1964, he was shortlisted to represent Indin in boxing at the international services Sports Meet, which was held in Tokyo.
Murlikant Petkar was a player not only in one sport; instead, he was a good player in many other sports. This was not the first time Murlikant Petkar showed his art of sports. In the 3rd Commonwealth Paraplegic Games, held at Edinburg, in 1970, he won one gold medal in 50-meter freestyle swimming, one silver medal in javelin throw and one bronze in shot-put.
Soon after Subedar Murlikant Petkar was awarded Padma Shri, he said in an interview that “I have put all that behind me. I am glad that the government finally recognised my achievements. I did feel disheartened when I was denied an Arjuna Award on the ground that I was a disabled person,”
He also said that “I made a bundle of all my certificates and medals and stashed them away, resolving never to make an application for any award again. Then, on January 25 this year, I got a call from the government that I had been shortlisted for the Padma Shri,”
Untold Story behind his Disability:
It was the time of India Pakistan war of 1965 when Murlikant Petkar was posted somewhere in Sialkot. Somewhere in September, his barrack was attacked by the Pakistani Army. He battled with the enemy with incomparable bravery but was hit numerous times during the war. He was shot nine times, out of which one bullet is still present in his backbone.
Petkar explained the entire story, recalling his memories of the war. He said that while they were having their lunch, his HM (Havildar Major) suddenly made a heavy cry. Being evening time when they were usually called for a tea, they took the cry casually. But as some of the jawans present in the barrack moved outside to reach the HM, they were killed instantly.
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After Subedar Murlikant Petkar was shot with nine bullets, he was rescued by other fellowmen and was hospitalized. Once he receives consciousness, he was unable to feel his body below the waist.
During this incident, Murlikant also faced memory loss for some time. For his bravery and supreme sacrifice for the nation, he was awarded Raksha Medal in 1965.
In general cases, people took years to overwhelm the grief, but Subedar Murlikant Petkar started preparing for the Paralympics games. He was finally discharged from his military services in 1969. But before getting the official discharge, he participated in Maharastra State Athletic meet in 1967 and ranked as the state champion in shot-put, javelin throw, discus throw, table tennis and archery.
After his retirement, Subedar Murlikant was offered the rehabilitation support by TATA’s, but against this, he denied the monetary support and asked for a work. TATA pleasantly offered him a job in Telco where he served for 30 years.
For his contribution in the field of sports and making India proud, Maharastra conferred him with the state’s highest sporting award i.e. Shiv Chhatrapati Award.
Subedar Murlikant Petkar Awarded Padma Shri
On 21st March 2018, Subedar Murlikant Rajaram was finally honored with Padam Shri by the President Ram Nath Kovind. On 21st March, he was proudly called to receive the Padma Shri and made Indian Proud.
Being supported by the crutches, Retired Subedar Murlikant was unable to offer a cracking salute to the President of India.
We Salute you Sir!