By Fakir Balaji
Madikeri (Karnataka), Aug 6:
Indian Army chief Gen. Dalbir Singh held a mega rally on Saturday at Karnataka’s Madikeri and felicitated some veteran warriors and war widows living in the Kodagu region.
“It is our duty to look after our veterans and veer naris (war widows), pay homage to the martyrs and acknowledge their invaluable contribution to the organisation and nation-building,” he said addressing a huge gathering of serving and retired soldiers and their families here.
About 1,800 veterans and war widows from Kodagu district and neighbouring areas participated in the rally, braving inclement weather and rain.
Singh attended a memorial service and laid a wreath at the war memorial built in honour of Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa, the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the army, at Cariappa Memorial Park in the heart of this picturesque hill town.
Then army chief, Gen. Shankar Roychowdhury unveiled the war memorial in January 1996.
Field Marshal Cariappa (1899-1993) led the forces on the western front during the 1947 India-Pakistan war and was the first of the two officers to hold the five-star rank of Field Marshal, the other being Sam Manekshaw.
Singh also visited “Sunny Side’, the last abode of General K.S. Thimayya, who was the Army Chief from 1957-61 and the only Indian to command an infantry brigade in the Second World War (1939-45), in the town.
“It is a matter of pride for the people of Kodagu for having produced two prominent chiefs of the Indian Army and a large number of serving and retired defence personnel,” said Singh amid applause from the audience.
Located in the southern part of the rich biodiverse Western Ghats, Kodagu is the birth place of Field Marshal Cariappa and General Thimayya, with a sizeable population of war veterans and war widows.
“Welfare of the veterans is one of my key result areas as I took a number of initiatives to address and improve the welfare schemes for them,” asserted Singh.
The focus of the rally was to resolve anomalies in the disbursement of pension and legal cases the veterans are fighting for justice.
The army chief expressed his force’s solidarity with its retired fraternity and assured them that the army and the government would be sensitive to their needs.
Organised by the army’s Karnataka and Kerala sub-area command, the rally had a medical camp, pension clinic, canteen service and stalls of the Army Welfare Education Society, Army Welfare Placement Organisation, Army Veteran’s Cell, Aadhar card registration and bank loan facilities.
Southern Army Commander Lt. Gen Bipin Rawat, Dakshin Bharat area General Officer Commanding Lt Gen Jagbir Singh and Karnataka and Kerala sub-area General Officer Commanding Maj. Gen. K.S Nijjar were present on the occasion along with senior ministry and Rajya Sainik Board officials.
Singh, his wife Namita Suhag, who is president of the Army Wives Welfare Association and its regional president Madhulika Rawat also interacted with the warriors, war widows and their families at the event. (IANS)