Syed Modi

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Syed Modi
Syed Modi.jpg
Personal information
Nickname(s) Babua by family and friends
Birth name Syed Mehdi
Country  India
Born 1962
Sardarnagar, Gorakhpur district, Uttar Pradesh
Died 28 July 1988
Height 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Years active 1976-1988
Coach Dipu Ghosh[1]
Men's singles
Career title(s) 1982 Commonwealth Games, Men's singles
Bronze medal, 1982 Asian Games
National Badminton champion (1980-87)
Highest ranking 12[2] (1988)

Syed Modi (1962–1988), born Syed Mehdi was an Indian badminton player, and eight-time National Badminton champion (1980–87). His other notable achievements included winning the Austrian International in 1983 and 1984 and the Men's singles title at the 1982 Commonwealth Games.[3]

A brilliant career was cut short in its prime when Modi was shot dead on 28 July 1988 in Lucknow as he came out of the K. D. Singh Babu Stadium after a practice session. The murder sent shockwaves through India, especially after the police filed murder charges against Modi's wife Ameeta Modi and her lover (and future husband) Raja Sanjay Singh of Amethi, who was a prominent politician belonging to the Congress Party.

Early life and education[edit]

Syed Modi was born into a Muslim family in the muffosil town of Sardarnagar, 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from Chauri Chaura in Uttar Pradesh. He grew up there, but his family hailed from Zaidi Sadat Kandipur (or Kadipur) near Jalalpur town in Ambedkar Nagar District, Uttar Pradesh. His father, Syed Meer Hassan Zaidi, works in Sardarnagar sugar mill and his mother was a housewife. Syed Modi was the youngest of their eight children (six sons and two daughters). Modi's elder brothers were not highly educated, but they worked and contributed significantly towards meeting family expenses and supporting Modi in his childhood, including for his badminton coaching, after it became clear that he had the potential to become a great player.

When Modi first began going to the local school, the person who entered his name in the school roster mistook his name "Mehdi" for the more common Indian surname "Modi" and wrote it down that way.[2] As a result, this became his name in all educational and government records and he did not take the trouble to rectify the matter in adulthood. In school, Modi achieved only average grades in his academics but became a notable sportsman. He was very popular in school for his open, affectionate nature and bright good looks. His elder brothers doted on him and financed his training as required. Far from feeling him a burden, they pinned their hopes that he would earn a good name and bring honour, pride and happiness to his parents in their old age, after a lifetime of poverty and struggle.


Modi fulfilled their hopes and prayers during his short life. In 1976, aged only 14, Syed Modi became junior national Badminton champion. His mother could not stop weeping while hearing the radio. She made her three eldest sons promise there and then, on the oath of her tears, that they would always try their hardest to provide funds for Modi's training, as far as God gave them the ability. The same year, Modi started training under Mr.P.K. Bhandari (Pushp Kumar Bhandari - chief badminton coach, N.I.S, Patiala) which continued till 1982. Thereafter, he trained under Dipu Ghosh, National Coach of Indian team.[1][4]

In 1980, as soon as he was eligible (aged 18), Modi won the national badminton championship. In the same year, the department of sports (Government of India) recommended his name and Modi was given a paying job as a Welfare Officer in the Indian Railways (NE). He was initially posted in Gorakhpur, nearest to his hometown and family. In 1982, his new coach wanted that he should train in Lucknow which had better facilities, so he was transferred there.

Syed Modi went on to win the national badminton championship every single year between 1980 and 1987 (eight times in a row). In 1981, he received the Arjuna Award from the Government of India. At the 1982 Asian Games, he won the bronze at the men's singles event. The same year (1982), he beat England's Nick Yates, 7-15, 15-5, 15-7 to take home the Men's singles Gold at the 1982 Commonwealth Games.[5] In 1983 and 1984, he won the Australian International. His game started going downhill only in 1987-88, when his marriage came under strain (his wife was having an affair) and Modi lost the national badminton championship for the first time ever in 1988. A few months later, he was murdered.

Marriage and misery[edit]

He later married Amita, a fellow badminton player.[6] In May 1988, they had a baby daughter who they named Aakanksha.[7] Two months after the birth of his daughter, Modi was murdered. ON the evening of 28 July 1988, at the age of 26, Modi was shot dead as he was coming out of KD Singh Babu stadium, Lucknow after a routine practice. A brilliant career was cut short and a severe blow was dealt to badminton in India as Modi was touted to be a superstar like Prakash Padukone.[1]

Murder case[edit]

The scandal surrounding Modi's murder attracted worldwide attention.[8] Seven were named in a chargesheet following a CBI probe, including Modi's wife Amita and her future husband, Indian politician Sanjay Singh who were allegedly suspected of getting Syed murdered due to their extra-marital affair, but the case against Amita Modi and Sanjay Singh - for conspiracy - was dropped, and Akhilesh Singh and Jitendra Singh were separately exonerated. Sanjay Singh and Amita modi later got married. Two of the other accused - Amar Bahadur Sing and Balai Singh - died before their involvement could be judged. Bhagwati Singh was found guilty of murder and possessing illegal arms, fined and sentenced to life imprisonment.[2][9][10][11][12] The brutal murder [13] left a wound in the public psyche [14] The CBI arrested Modi's adulterous wife and her lover within days of the murder,[15] but the investigation was then scuttled by the government, according to retired investigating officers.[16] The evidence included letters written by Ameeta's mother, regarding the paternity of Aakanksha, and also letters written during the engagement of Syed Modi and Ameeta in 1984 and later a letter where Syed Modi threatened to commit suicide.[17]

Memorial tournament[edit]

After Modi's death, a badminton tournament was constituted in his memory, "Syed Modi Memorial", All India Syed Modi badminton championship hosted each year at Lucknow,[18] which turned into "Syed Modi International Challenge" in 2004, and starting December 2009 it would turn into "Syed Modi Grand Prix", organized by Badminton Association of India.[19][20] The Railways of which he was an employee, opened the Syed Modi Railway stadium and auditorium at his native place, Gorakhpur.[21]


Veteran actor, director Dev Anand decided to make a thriller on the story based on the murder of Syed Modi. Sau Crore was released in 1991. The role of Syed Modi was played by Raman Kapoor and politician played by (Naseeruddin Shah). The movie was a big flop at box office.


  1. ^ a b c "Modi flexing is muscles in the wings". New Strait Times. 16 May 1980. 
  2. ^ a b c "Syed Modi case closed, motive unclear". The Times of India. 21 August 2009. Retrieved 23 August 2009. 
  3. ^ "Pawar Clinches Austrian Open". The Hindu. 25 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-03. 
  4. ^ "NSNIS chief badminton coach Bhandari retires". Indian Express. 4 May 2006. 
  5. ^ "Smaller countries winning medals". The Spokesman-Review. 9 October 1982. 
  6. ^ Meeting Ameeta
  7. ^ Daughter was named Aakanksha
  8. ^ Bernard Weinraub (28 August 1998). "India Murder Scandal Mixes Sex and Politics". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-03. 
  9. ^ "Court Dismisses CBI Appeal in Syed Modi Murder Case". The Hindu. 9 December 2004. Retrieved 2008-03-03. 
  10. ^ "Life term for one in Syed Modi murder case". The Hindu. 23 Aug 2009. Retrieved 23 August 2009. 
  11. ^ "Love all !!". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 23 August 2009. 
  12. ^ "Killer of badminton player Syed Modi gets life imprisonment". Hindustan Times. 22 August 2009. 
  13. ^ Day of murder
  14. ^ Left a wound
  15. ^ Ameeta and Sanjay Singh arrested
  16. ^ Scuttling the Modi Murder case
  17. ^ Letters
  18. ^ Express News Service (8 December 2007). "Aparna Popat Regains His Crown at Syed Modi Badminton Tourney". Retrieved 2008-03-03. 
  19. ^ "First Syed Modi International tourney from Dec 8". Indian Express. 6 December 2004. Retrieved 23 August 2009. 
  20. ^ ""Also the Syed Modi Grand Prix will be organised every year starting from December this year,"..". Zee News. 27 March 2009. Retrieved 23 August 2009. 
  21. ^ "the 54th Railway Week prize distribution function held in the auditorium of Syed Modi Railway stadium,...". The Times of India. 11 April 2009. Retrieved 23 August 2009.