IT WILL house paintings, murals, artefacts and photographs depicting Southern Command’s martial history, post Independence operations and aid to civil authority. Not just these riveting features, the upcoming War Museum — located on the premises of the National War Memorial in the city — will also display real tanks, some of them captured from the enemy forces. Besides, there will be a paintball arena, wherein the visitors will get a hands-on battle experience.The museum is slated to be inaugurated on December 16 — day when the country marks Vijay Diwas commemorating India’s victory over Pakistan in 1971 war. The Southern Command was raised on April 1 in 1895 and has since then been headquartered in Pune.
The Army is presenting a war museum in the each of the five commands in the country. The one in Pune will be open to public on Wednesday by Southern Army Commander Lt Gen Ashok Singh after the wreath-laying ceremony takes place on the occasion of Vijay Diwas.
An Army officer said, “The first section of the museum has the martial history of the states that fall under the Southern Command. An effort has been made to depict the historical events from 1000 AD onwards. There are paintings, murals, artefacts, photos and write-ups that narrate this history. Another section is on various post-Independence operations carried out in the Area of Responsibility (AoR) of the Southern Command. The highlights are 1961 mergers of Goa, Junagarh and Hyderabad into the Union of India, 1965 war, 1971 war and 1987 International Peace Keeping Forces’ mission to Sri Lanka.”
“There is a section which portrays the contributions made by the Southern Command in the form of Aid to Civil Authority, especially during disasters and calamities. Another section is dedicated to the 40 training establishments that fall under this Command. The highlight of the museum is the spot where the tanks have been lined up — some used by our forces while others captured from the enemy forces. Another feature in the museum is the paintball range. In this section, the visitors will get a hands-on experience of real fighting scenarios wherein they will be fighting with paintballs, as in a counter-terrorism operation.”
Several artists and contributors have helped in setting up the museum and the Dakshin Maharashtra Sub-Area, which is erstwhile Pune sub-area, is the ground formation that has executed the task.
Today, the Command comprises two Corps, 12 (Desert Corps) and 21 (Strike Corps) located at Jodhpur and Bhopal respectively. The Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa Area, with its headquarters in Mumbai, and the Andhra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala Area with its headquarters in Chennai also fall under the Command. It encompasses 10 states and four union territories, covering nearly 40 per cent of the land area of the country. Its formations, establishments and units are spread over 19 cantonments and 35 military stations, which are also home to 41 major training establishments.