Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh felicitated the veterans of the 1971 Indo-Pak war at a function in Guwahati, Assam on April 23, 2022. Over 300 war veterans, Veer Naris and their families attended the felicitation ceremony organised by the Government of Assam to honour the valour, dedication and sacrifice of the bravehearts who fought the enemy and ensured victory in the 1971 war. Lt Col Quazi Sajjad Ali Zahir (Retd), a Bangladeshi veteran of 1971 war who was awarded with a Padma Shri was among those present. Some of the veterans of the 1965 war were also in attendance.
In his address, Shri Rajnath Singh expressed his happiness at meeting the war heroes & Veer Naris and paid tributes to those who made the supreme sacrifice in the service of the Nation. He described the veterans as important assets of the nation who are an inspiration to every Indian. “An in-service soldier is India’s strength and a veteran is an ever-lasting inspiration to stand by that strength,” he said.
Appreciating the Assam Government for felicitating the veterans, the Raksha Mantri stated that the event reflected the sense of respect not only for the Armed Forces, but also for the country’s democratic values. He paid homage to Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, General Jagjit Singh Arora, Lt Gen JFR Jacob, Major General Sujan Singh Uban and Air Chief Marshal IH Latif for leading India to a historic triumph in the 1971 war. “Our forces in the 1971 war comprised soldiers from every religion. But that did not win us the war. It was the strong thread of Indianness that held our soldiers together which ensured our victory,” he said. Shri Rajnath Singh appealed to the citizens to safeguard the unity & integrity of the country with the same nationalism and patriotism with which the soldiers protect the borders.
The 1971 war provided India with a strategic advantage, Shri Rajnath Singh added, saying that there has never been any tension on the Indo-Bangladesh border as seen on the western front because Bangladesh has always been India’s friendly country. He credited the coordination between the central and states governments of the North-east which has ensured peace & stability on the Indo-Bangladesh border and helped the region usher into a new era of development.
The Raksha Mantri also stated that the removal of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) from many areas of the North-East is the result of durable peace and stability in the region. “Some people believe that the Indian Army does not want AFSPA to be removed. I want to say from this forum that the Army has a minimal role in internal security. The Army wants that the situation becomes completely normal in Jammu & Kashmir so that AFSPA can be removed from there as well,” he added.