Sardar Avtar Singh Dhillon belonging to one of the illustrious families of Patiala passed away on 16th July 2020 at Patiala. He was 84. A great lover of photographs and memoirs of rich historical interests, Avtar Singh Dhillon zealously preserved valuable records depicting rich legacy of Patiala Polo and his Grandfather General Chanda Singh.
In the game of Polo, Patiala had the world’s best Polo Back, General Chanda Singh. Being a proud grandson of Sardar Bahadur General Chanda Singh, OBE, ADC, the greatest Polo Back in the world, Avtar Singh Dhillon all through his life kept all the records of historical accounts intact in his house. With his death Patiala has lost a great lover of valuable and cherished memories of Polo. Besides representing Patiala, his Grandfather General Chanda Singh ( then a Colonel) playing in the Polo Championship of Spain at the behest of His Majesty King Alphonso of Spain was instrumental in the King’s team winning the Championship. So impressed was the King that he requested him to bring his family and settle in Spain and that he would be pleased to grant him a noble rank with enough provision for him and his family. General Chanda Singh thanked the King for his generosity, but politely declined his offer since he was already in the service of the Maharaja of Patiala and through whose patronage he was in Europe. This speaks volumes of the love and loyalty’ of the General, for his princely hometown Patiala, a rare quality in today’s world. He also played in England and France, winning championships in Polo. His forefather, Sardar Bahadur Singh used to finance the Sikh Army of Maharaja Ranjit Singh who bestowed upon the title of ” SHAH” by which the members of his family are known to this day.
Avtar Singh Dhillon ‘s late father Brigadier Fateh Singh, a well known figure of Patiala was also a keen Polo player. Avtar Singh Dhillon served as the President of Rotary Club ( Main) Patiala and was a long time Free Mason with numerous ranks and degrees to his credit. Lodge Phulkian Number 94, Patiala and Lodge Charity Number 8, Ambala Cantonment and various other lodges of Northern India have mourned the sad demise of Avtar Singh Dhillon. His wife who had pre-deceased him in the year 2017 also had served actively in the Red Cross Society for many years. To his family, relatives and friends, Mr Dhillon will always be remembered as an epitome of goodwill, youth and cheerfulness. Condolences have been pouring in from all quarters. Brij Bhupinder Singh, Ex- Home Minister, Punjab regrets his brother-in-law’s sad demise as he will surely miss his warm companionship.
Lt General Dhillon ( retd) formerly GoC XV Corps , also his brother-in-law, remarked ” In Avtar’s passing away, he had lost a venerable elder brother”. Commodore Shergill ( Retd), Indian Navy said ” My father-in-law’s dynamic personality, immaculate attire , knowledge on ‘matters military’ particularly, apart
from numerous other fields and forthrightness was akin to a typical ‘military officer’. Dr Ashok Gupta has expressed his grief by saying that ” Dhillon Sahib was the ‘glory’ of the Lodge”. Dhillon ‘s cousin sister, Mrs Barnala, wife of late Surjit Singh Barnala, former CM Punjab bas also expressed her grief at his death.