Chandigarh [India], Nov 14 (ANI): Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday deplored attempts to politicise the defence forces, asserting that the armed forces were meant to report only to their regimental heads and not work at the behest of the political dispensation. The Chief Minister called for an immediate end to the current cult of political interference in the functioning of defense services, to enable the officers and soldiers in the armed forces to discharge their duties efficaciously.
"This was necessary in the larger interest of the nation, and to secure its unity, integrity and security," he told a distinguished gathering at the Remembrance Day ceremony here, to pay homage to Commonwealth nations' armed forces members, who sacrificed their lives during World War I. A two-minute silence was also observed in memory of the martyrs.
The exemplary valour and indomitable courage of all those great soldiers in preserving the ethos of freedom, liberty and democratic values had remained largely unrecognised, Captain Amarinder Singh lamented, pointing out that nearly 74,000 Indian soldiers attained martyrdom and 67,000 were wounded in this historic War.
"While most Indians were quite aware of the sacrifices made by millions of known and unknown people in the Independence struggle, the supreme contribution of those brave men who fought in the Great War had been largely forgotten," said the Chief Minister. He called for the aggressive propagation of the nation's rich military history among the youth, to make them more aware of the rich and glorious legacy of the armed forces.
Underscoring the need to acclimatize the younger generation with the past events, Captain Amarinder Singh advocated the inclusion of detailed chapters on India's contribution both, World War I and II, in the school curriculum.
Referring to his recent visit to Turkey's Gallipoli's Helles and Turkish memorials, where he paid his respects to the martyred Commonwealth soldiers including Indians, Captain Amarinder Singh said that there was a marked difference in the awareness levels of youth about the military exploits than in India.
Paying his respects to the fallen soldiers, the Chief Minister said that it was a sad moment but also a day to be proud of what our valiant soldiers did in the line of duty. Quoting from his book 'Honour and Fidelity-India's military contribution to the Great War 1914-18', the Chief Minister revealed that Indian soldiers who were summoned within 20 days after the start of the war hugely aided the British in the eventual culmination of the War.
By the end of 1914, seven expeditionary forces had been sent from India to various theatres of the war. These included two infantry divisions, eight infantry brigades and one mixed force with three infantry battalions, two cavalry divisions, one cavalry brigade and the attendant adminis
trative services, as well as four field artillery brigades in excess of the normal allotment to France, Chief Minister read out from his book.
Earlier, British Deputy High Commissioner in Chandigarh, Andrew Ayre lauded the role played by Indian soldiers in the War. He also complimented the role of Indian soldiers for immaculately handling the warfare in alien lands, to be honoured with prestigious 11 Victoria Crosses besides numerous other medals. This reflects their professional commitment, sincerity and, above all, dedication to the cause of universal freedom and liberty, he added.
Canadian Consulate General Mia Yen also paid glowing tributes to the soldiers in securing peace, prosperity and democratic freedom for their future generations. The restoration of peace and tranquility after the World War I gave a boost to the overall development, she said, adding that it was a solemn occasion to pause and reflect not only on the past but also ponder over the challenges in the future perspective. (ANI)