The carefully manicured lawns and flowerbeds of Vijay Smarak next to the East Gate of the Army’s Eastern Command headquarters at Fort William will no longer be a no-go zone for the common people. After laying a wreath at the memorial on the occasion of the 48th Vijay Diwas on Monday, Lt Gen Anil Chauhan, GOC-in-C, Eastern Command, announced the Smarak will remain open to everybody on Sundays and public holidays.
Vijay Diwas is celebrated to mark India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 War. On December 16 that year, the Pakistan Army component in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan), comprising nearly 93,000 officers and other ranks laid down arms before the Indian Army, marking the biggest surrender since World War II. Among the others who paid homage to the martyrs during the day were Air Marshal R D Mathur, AOC-in-C, Eastern Air Command, Vice Admiral S N Ghormade, chief of staff, Eastern Naval Command and Bangladeshi MP Shajahan Khan, who led a contingent of Mukti Joddhas to Kolkata for the occasion.
Vijay Smarak, comprising three tall granite columns (to mark the three services) upholding the insignia of the Eastern Command, was built in 1996. The walls behind the structure are etched with names of officers and other ranks from the Command martyred in the 1962 and 1967 Sino-Indian conflicts, 1971 Indo-Pak War and counter insurgency/counter terrorism operations. Later, an eternal flame was added to the base of the columns that remains lit 24×7.
“The martyrs are no longer with us but their sacrifice and their glory will continue to motivate the military and other citizens. The war of 1971 is of special significance for the Eastern Command as it was largely directed from Fort William and Kolkata. The impact of the War was felt by the city. I have seen the kind of respect that Army personnel draw from residents of Kolkata. To mark their contribution to the War and to respect their sentiments, Vijay Smarak will remain open to the residents of Kolkata on Sundays and public holidays,” Lt Gen Chauhan said.
Source: Times of India