- NOIDA pays homage to it’s martyrs on Vijay Diwas
By Brig Vijay Atray
New Delhi . 21 December 2020. Lt Gen SK Saini ,Vice Chief of Army Staff was at NOIDA to commemorate India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war. Vijay Diwas is celebrated on every 16th December in India, to salute its armed forces on not only their victory but also in ensuring the liberation of Bangladesh from Pakistan
The end of the war also resulted in the unilateral and unconditional surrender of the Pakistan Army and subsequent secession of East Pakistan into Bangladesh. On this day in 1971, the chief of the Pakistani forces, General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, along with 93,000 troops, surrendered to the allied forces consists of Indian Army and Mukti Bahini, led by General Jagjit Singh Aurora, of India at the Rana Race Course, now Suhrawardy Udyan, in Dhaka after their defeat in the war. Same day an event is commemorated in Bangladesh as Bijoy Dibos.
On 16 December every year, citizens, senior officials, students & war veterans lay wreaths and remember the sacrifices of the soldiers. The anniversary of Vijay Divas is observed across India by paying tributes to the martyrs who laid down their lives for the nation. In the nation’s capital New Delhi, the Prime Minister, Defence Minister and heads of all three wings of the Indian armed forces pay homage at War Memorial in New Delhi as well as in the National Military Memorial, Bangalore.
Noida has large presence of ex – servicemen (ESM) and they have built a Shaheed Smarak which is the first Tri Service Memorial raised by a township to honour its war dead and they are proud of it .The three Service Chiefs dedicated the Memorial to the nation on 13 th April 2002.Since then they hold three functions every year viz ‘Annual Wreath Laying Ceremony ‘in February in which the Chief Guest is one of the Service Chief in rotation, ‘Dedication Day Ceremony ‘ is a Candlelight function on 13 th April and the third event is ‘Vijay Diwas ‘ function on 16 th December where the Chief Guest is one of the Vice Chiefs in rotation. This time it was Army’ turn hence Lt Gen SK Saini ,VCOAS was the Chief Guest.
The question arises as to how could such a monument could be constructed by ex servicemen and so meticulously managed.! The Shaheed Smarak Sanstha managed to raise reasonable funds from civil sources, business companies owned by ESM , active formations & some units . Besides this individual members ,schools in Noida, AVI, AVCC & AVRWA contributed generously. The Floriculture Society of Noida undertook the development work and builder Wig Brothers built it at 50 % cost. GOC in C western Command & GOC Delhi area heartily supported the cause & instructed APS school to to provide assistance whenever required. The contribution of Noida Authority is immense ,who not only agreed to let the Sanstha build the Smarak on their land but also agreed to provide financial and maintenance support .In view of the benovalence of the cause donation to Shaheed Smarak Sanstha has been exempted from Income Tax under Section 80 G.
Today it has lush green lawns and rare plants such as Foxtrot Palm, Ficus Micro Carps, Magnolia, Kurejia, Hibiscus, large size multiple petal Adeniums, Arucaria, rare variety of senseveira, agave Gemini flora, multi coloured bougainvillaea , Hamelia , Topiary of Casurina &Ficus Benjamin etc . Over the years all the three services have gifted various vintage items viz AD gun, Naval Surface to Air Missile, Trainer Jet Aircraft ISKRA by IAF and a model of INS Chennai. .Thus the Smarak of Noida has become an Icon and has a large footfall of visitors as well as morning & evening walkers.
This year due to the ongoing Covid 19 and the availability of the Chief Guest the ceremony at the Shaheed Smarak Noida was organized on 21st December and the strength was restricted to 100 ,which included the Chief Guest and his staff, GOC Delhi Area, two star representatives of Chief of Naval Staff & Chief of Air Staff, Honor Guard -which comprised of all the three service Army, Air Force & the Navy , only one Next of Kin of each martyr, media, attendees , heads of five Community Institutions viz Arun Vihar Residents’ Welfare association (AVRWA), Jal Vayu Vihar Residents’ Welfare Association (JVRWA), Arun Vihar Institute (AVI), Arun Vihar Community Centre (AVCC) & Jal vayu Vihar Community Centre (JVCC), senior officers of the Civil Administration and of course the organizers.
Like every other year the Vijay Diwas was celebrated 17 th time in continuation by first wreath being laid by the Chief Guest Lt Gen SK Saini , Vice Chief of the Army Staff followed by Lt Gen VK Mishra, GOC Delhi Area , Rear Adm Atul Chandra Tiwari, representative of Indian Navy & Air Vice Mshl Sanjay Nathak ,representative of Indian air Force . Out of 38 martyrs from Gautam Buddha Nagar 24 had consented to be present.These include 9 gallantry award winners viz MVC,Vr C,KC,SM & SC .However, some of them couldn’t make it- may be due Covid 19.Thereafter wreaths were laid by Lt Gen GL Bakshi, Chairman Shaheed Smarak Sanstha, Col Shashi Vaid , Chairman AVRWA, Lt Col Pardaman Singh, President AVCC, Lt Col Mahendra Kumar ,President AVI & Cmde Gurnam Singh ,President JVCC ,Mr Kailash Sharma, President Kailash Hosp and Mrs. Jyoti Rana ,Principal Army Public School .The touching scene was when Vidit Saha a student of APS School laid wreath on behalf of the youth. He was selected as he scored 98 % marks. On the conclusion of wreath laying Lt Gen Bakshi, Chairman Shaheed Smarak Sanstha gave welcome address.
It was followed by the address of Chief Guest Lt Gen SK Saini. He said ‘I am privileged to have been given opportunity to pay my respect to brave martyrs in whose honour this magnificent memorial has been constructed. Paying homage to the brave comrades who made supreme sacrifice in the best traditions of the Defence Forces he stated that their deeds will forever be etched in the hearts & minds of a grateful nation. He further added ‘we also salute the wives, parents & children of these brave hearts who will always be an inspiration & example for future generations. We fully understand the loss of bread –earner of the families , your grief & pain is ours equally.’ He assured that the Defence Forces will always be there to render succor & support.
Reiterating the glorious history of the Defence Forces , he said it can be ascribed to the brave soldiers whose names adore the walls of Shaheed Smarak. Their valor , selfless service & bravery have accorded a unique identity to the Defence Forces and made us the most trusted organization in the collective conscience of the Nation. Speaking of the great Indian Defence Forces he amplified ‘our soldiers are standing guard on the icy heights of the Himalayas , braving the most inhospitable environment and facing hostile and vicious adversares. They are ever ready to make the supreme sacrifice for the honour of their Nation & their units because of the examples set by the selfless sacrifices in the past. Memorials like this will continue to inspire the coming generations & perpetuate the selfless tradition.
The General eulogized the fraternity of Noida Shaheed Smarak Sanstha and the Noidaites for maintaining the memorial so well , even during the pandemic. He emphasized that such monuments not only accord honour , dignity & glory to the martyrs but also motivate the generations – to – come to learn from their sacrifices and influence them to contribute towards nation building. In the end he appealed ‘ let us rededicate & take a firm pledge that we will never forget the sacrifices of our fallen comrades and do our utmost to ease the pain of the loved ones of our heros’. At the same time he emphasized that such monuments need constant attention & maintenance which should not be neglected.
All in all it was a solemn ceremony organized with military precision and discipline. However, the choir from APS School and Military Band was missed , who couldn’t participate due to the ongoing pandemic. The address by Lt Gen Saini was like a soothing balm to the NOKs of the martyrs and motivation for the future generations.