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Badminton

Commemorating Syed Modi: Life, tumultuous relations and untimely death

Commemorating Syed Modi: Life, tumultuous relations and untimely death
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By

Sarah Waris

Published: 26 Nov 2019 8:27 AM GMT

The Syed Modi International Badminton Championships, held annually in India in memory of Commonwealth Games medalist Syed Modi, assembles the best shuttlers from around the country and the globe as they fight for top honours in the BWF Grand Prix Gold tournament. Since its inception in 1991, the event has been held at the Babu Banarasi Das Indoor Stadium, Lucknow, although it was shifted to Hyderabad for a year in 2010.

The history of the tournament following the murder of Syed Modi

The eight-time national badminton winner from 1980 to 1987, Modi was at the peak of his career in the 1980s, when he won gold in the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Australia and followed it up with a bronze in the Asian Games held in Delhi the same year. He also won the Australian International in 1983 and 1984 along with a European Badminton Circuit tournament, the USSR International in 1985.

Syed Modi
Syed Modi was at the peak of his career in the 1980s, when he won gold in the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Australia

However, his promising career was cut short when he was shot dead in Lucknow on July 28 1988 at the K.D. Singh Babu Stadium after a training session. The unfortunate demise sent the whole nation into a state of shock, especially after Modi's wife Ameeta was charged by the police for murder. Her then lover and now husband Sanjay Singh was charged as well. The CBI established the extra-marital affair as a reason for the murder , however, the two were later absolved in a puzzling sentence.

His marriage

Syed Modi married Ameeta, a badminton player in the girl's team despite strong opposition from their respective families. However, lending a silent ear to the protests, the two got married in a hastily arranged ceremony in 1984. The trouble though soon entered paradise as religious and cultural issues along with possible professional jealousy caused a distance between the two. Ameeta was expecting their first child in 1987, but the gap widened further as he suspected that the child was not his.

Marital discord affected his game and he lost his first-ever senior national title in 1988. Soon after, he was shot dead.

Syed Modi
Once touted as the next Prakash Padukone of Indian badminton, Syed Modi is now honoured with an annual tournament.

Has justice been served?

No. Both Ameeta Singh and Sanjay Singh, who got married soon after Modi's untimely death, have entered politics following the incident. Ameeta got an MLA ticket from Amethi, while Sanjay has served as a Lok Sabha member in 1998 and 2009. In 2009, a Lucknow sessions court sentenced Bhagwati Singh to life without establishing any motive for murder, and also refused to go into the alleged links with Sanjay and Ameeta. His family still awaits justice.

Once touted as the next Prakash Padukone of Indian badminton, Syed Modi is now honoured with an annual tournament. This year, the competition will be held from November 26 to December 1.

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