Digital Desk, New Delhi. Keshav Dutt, who was a part of India’s golden era in hockey, passed away on Wednesday due to age-related ailments. He was 95 years old. The former centre-half-back breathed his last at around 12.30 am on Wednesday at his residence in Kolkata’s Santoshpur. A Hockey Bengal (HB) official said Dutt’s last rites will be performed after his daughter Anjali arrives from abroad in a few days.
Keshav Dutt was part of the team that won gold medals in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics. One of the biggest achievements was when the Indian hockey team won its first gold medal since independence in the 1948 Olympics by defeating hosts Britain 4-1 at Wimbley Stadium in London. This was followed by defeating the Netherlands 6–1 at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics to win the gold medal for the fifth time in a row and for the second time since independence.
Born on 29 December 1925 in Lahore, Dutt toured East Africa under the leadership of hockey wizard Major Dhyan Chand in 1947, before the Olympics.
Dutt moved to India after Partition where he played for Bombay and then Bengal. As a half back, he played 22 matches and scored two goals. Dhyan Chand in his autobiography ‘Gol’ has described Keshav Dutt as one of the best half-backs of that time.
In 1949, Dutt had the honor of playing against hockey wizard Dhyan Chand, who led the Rest of India team in two exhibition matches here.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee condoled the death of Keshav Dutt, writing, “The world of hockey has lost a true legend today. Saddened by the passing of Keshav Dutt. He is a double Olympic gold medalist, 1948 and 1952. A champion of India and Bengal. Condolences to his family and friends.”
An integral part of the Indian team, Dutt also captained the Mohun Bagan hockey team. He was the captain of Mohun Bagan in 1951–1953 and again in 1957–1958. As a Mohun Bagan player, he won the Hockey League six times and the Beaton Cup thrice in a span of 10 years.
Condoling his death, Hockey India President Gyanandro Ningombam said, “We are all deeply saddened to hear about the passing of the great halfback Keshav Dutt this morning. He was the only surviving member of the 1948 and 1952 Olympic Games and is in fact today. I feel like the end of an era. We all grew up listening to the incredible stories of his memorable journeys to independent India at the Olympics and the inspiration he continues to inspire generations. On behalf of the Federation, I extend my deepest condolences to his family. I express my condolences.”
In 2019, he was awarded the title of Mohun Bagan Ratna, the first non-footballer to receive this award.
Apart from hockey, Dutt was also a great player of badminton, he was the No-1 player of Bengal of his time.