Ticker :
TTFI News 23rd-Mar-2023
Table Tennis will feel Chhajlani's absence

Jammu: Abhay Chhajlani, 88, who passed away on Thursday morning after a prolonged illness, is synonymous with sports, especially table tennis. The loss is irreparable, and not surprisingly, the table tennis fraternity has joined hundreds of thousands of his admirers in mourning the sudden demise.


In his lifetime, Chhajlani wore several hats, including that of a successful journalist and editing the popular Hindi daily, Nai Dunia, and even served as vice-president of the Indian Newspapers Society from 2000-2002, besides three terms as president of Indian Languages Newspapers Association in 1988, 1989 and 1994. 


He was also known for his strong views and his editorial policy as the editor-in-chief editor of Nai Dunia. However, his contribution to table tennis has been immense. An avid sports lover, he single-handedly created one of the finest infrastructures, Abhay Prashal, appropriately named after him, serving the sport regularly. Abhay Prashal at Indore has been one of the most-sought venues for TTFI-organised tournaments, including international events, year after year.  


Condoling his death, Kamlesh Mehta, Secretary General of TTFI, recalled his services to the sport and said how TT would miss him. “His passing away is a huge loss to all of us. Chhajlani ji's presence at Abhay Prashal meant a source of inspiration to many, especially the young paddlers. Only of late, he was not visiting the stadium because of his ill health. Otherwise, he would rarely miss Abhay Prashal, his second home, and one would always see him always interact with officials,” said Kamlesh in his tribute to the departed soul. “Every table tennis tournament, he would ensure his presence at the event, even if it meant for a brief period,” he added. 


Chairman of Indore Table Tennis Trust and former President of Madhya Pradesh Table Tennis Association, Chhajlani envisioned and added ultra-modern facilities like a gymnasium, swimming pool, and top-class accommodation to Abhay Prashal. Under his leadership, the Association thrived and hosted 13 international and nearly 100 national tournaments, besides several coaching camps and para-TT nationals. 


Incidentally, the Association has conferred the President Cup award on six occasions, four years consecutive between 1976 and 1979, and again in 1984 and 2016. Chhajlani was also instrumental in building many a career of table tennis players from MP. He also served as the vice-president of the Table Tennis Federation of India and is credited for piloting Madhya Pradesh's sports policy as vice-president of the Madhya Pradesh Sports Council.


Rinku Acharya, former national champion and Secretary of MPTTA, said: “It's a personal loss for all of us. As a player and as an administrator, I have known him for years. A kind-hearted person, he would do all he could to help table tennis. His biggest contribution is Abhay Prashal, a venue player of all hues rave about.”


Om Soni, former president of MPTTA and a veteran journalist, condoling the demise of Chhajlani, said: “He was like a big brother to me in the profession, and most of us would spend time discussing table tennis and other things. His dream of making Abhay Prashal venue worthy of hosting international tournaments came true during his lifetime. We are happy the clubhouse and other facilities got completed when he was alive.”


Former Secretary Jayesh Acharya echoed his views. "Bhai Saab (Chhajlani) was our friend, guide and philosopher. He reposed his faith in (Om) Soni ji, me and our team in upkeeping the venue and organising sports events regularly. He formed the trust, and it is trying to fulfil all his dreams. He was the torchbearer for all of us. His absence will sting us badly, but we are focused to complete the unfinished job--producing a few best players from the stable of Abhay Prashal," said Jayesh.   


Chhajlani was bestowed with the Padma Shri in 2009 for his contribution to journalism. The state government conferred the Lifetime Achievement Award for promoting the sport in 2022, as did TTFI in 2017.


Chhajlani was known as a philanthropist and served society in humanitarian causes, including joining hands with Blood Donation 365 Days, an initiative promoting blood donation.