Dhyan Chand
Former hockey players stage a demonstration to demand Bharat Ratna for Dhyan Chand at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, on Aug 28, 2016.IANS

Dhyan Chand is the greatest hockey player to have represented India, and former players of the country want the three-time Olympic gold medallist to be conferred with the Bharat Ratna. Well-known stars of the past, including Dilip Tirkey staged a demonstration at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, asking the government to hand Late Dhyan Chand the prestigious award.

Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award that an Indian can receive. It was only limited to arts, literature, public service and science, but the government decided to expand the horizons to include 'any field of human endeavour' in 2011.

As a result, India cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar became the first sportsperson to receive the award, in 2014. During that time as well, there were calls from several quarters, suggesting that the 'wizard of hockey' should have been the first sportsperson to receive the Bharat Ratna.

Tirkey blamed politics for Dhyan Chand not receiving the Bharat Ratna as yet.

"Look at how much we are struggling to win medals in the Olympics now. This is a man who won three gold (1928, 1932 and 1936 Olympics) and yet isn't getting the recognition he deserves. I feel that there may be some political reason behind this," The Times of India quoted Tirkey as saying.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been a strong supporter of athletes in various sports. Modi cheered the Rio athletes, who went for the Olympics as well. The PM also spoke about Dhyan Chand on his Mann Ki Baat programme on Sunday. 

Tirkey, who is presently a Rajya Sabha MP, said it is time for the PM to take "action" and award the Bharat Ratna to the Dhyan Chand.

"It's encouraging that he is interested in sports. But the time for action has come and we hope that things will move briskly from here," Tirkey said