June 29, 2008 11:03:22 pm
Flags at most regimental centres and Army units across the country will be flying at half mast to pay homage to Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw who passed away on Friday but national flags across the country will not be lowered in honour of the five-star General.
While it is not a breach of protocol, the Government’s decision not to declare a national mourning in the wake of the Field Marshal’s demise has once again raised eyebrows after the low turnout at his funeral.
Army sources confirmed that no instructions of a national mourning period was declared and the national flag would not be flying at half mast as is customary after the death of a leader of national importance or a former head of state.
This comes after the Defence Ministry has come under severe criticism for the poor turnout at the Field Marshal’s funeral in Wellington. What hurt certain sentiments was that despite being in New Delhi, Defence Minister A K Antony and the Navy and Air Force Chiefs did not attend the funeral.
Their absence, explained away as ‘not a breach of protocol’, raised eyebrows on Friday with several serving and retired Army officers expressing their shock. The seniormost Government functionary at the state funeral was the Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju.
From the military side, Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen M L Naidu was the senior most officer at the function. What has jarred the Army is that neither the Navy nor the Air Force Chief bothered to attend the funeral. Instead, two-star officers in the region were deputed to represent the forces. Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor, who was on an official tour to Russia, was also not recalled by the Defence Ministry for the funeral.
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