Hundreds of residents, including a large number of school children, gathered at the Chandigarh War Memorial, Sector 3, here today to pay tributes to the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the nation on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of Kargil Vijay Diwas.
As the UT Police band played patriotic numbers, the war memorial glowed with hundreds of candles lighted by the grateful citizens in the memory of the martyrs. Some of those present were parents or relatives of the martyrs whose names are etched in the War Memorial. Over 10,500 names of armed forces personnel belonging to Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh, who had made the supreme sacrifice, have been carned on black granite slabs in the Memorial.
While earlier in the day, over 500 students from 10 city government schools visited the Memorial, the evening saw large number of students from private schools lighting candles in the memory of the martyrs. These included students from DAV senior secondary school, Sector 15, St Stephen’s School, Sector 45, Guru Nanak Public School and New Public School, Sector 18. Some officers from defence and administration who came along with their family members.
While paying tribute to the martyrs, Lt. Col. Jagwant Singh Baht (SM) (retd) said, “This is the day, when we get an opportunity to contribute a little by lighting a candle. Atleast, there is a day, when our country gets to remember the sacrifices of the Army. Being from the Army background, spending an evening, reading the names of all the martyrs is the feeling, which can not be expressed. It’s a day of respect.”
Squadron leader Vikas Yadav, posted in Leh, who was present at the War memorial to pay tribute to the soldiers, said, “The soldiers have made supreme sacrifice and this day is a day of recognition and respect. I got a wonderful opportunity to meet two Paramveer Chakra awardees yesterday, namely PVC Sanjay Kumar Singh and PVC Yogendra Yadav, who are the brave hearts.”
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Col. Veer Amol Singh (retd) said, “I appreciate the efforts of Indian Express, which does a great job in organising this function every year and making people aware. My entire family background is of Army, so for us, this day is like a very festival.”
While, Brig. Jiti Phoolka (retd) who also comes to the war memorial twice a year to pay homage to the martyrs said, “It is indeed a wonderful initiative, but there should be some speakers called on this occasion so that school children could be made aware of the importance of the day. The names of two of my colleagues are written on these walls including Capt Vishisht and Capt. Gosain.
A team of senior members of Aam Admi party also paid homage to the martyrs by lighting candles on the occasion.
The Kargil War began in May 1999 and lasted more than two months. It was in July 1999 when the Pakistan army finally accepted its defeat and withdrew from the Indian territory. In the war, however, the Army nearly lost 500 officers and jawans while about 1500 were wounded.
The Chandigarh War Memorial, largest of its kind in the country, was set up through a citizens initiative led by The Indian Express and was dedicated to the nation by former President APJ Abdul Kalam.