‘Need to sensitise people to show respect to our soldiers’

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 11 Mar 2017 10:08:31

Staff Reporter,

“Take time off your busy schedule and visit the far flung areas of our borders to get the first hand knowledge of conditions in which our brave soldiers are keeping vigil, protecting our motherland and sacrificing their lives. Only then will you realise what is patriotism,” exhorted Justice (Retd) Vikas Sirpurkar, while addressing a jam-packed Maharshi Vyas Hall at Smriti Mandir, Reshimbag here on Friday.

Justice Sirpurkar was addressing the gathering in a programme organised by Prahaar Samaj Jagruti Sanstha to felicitate Chasen Lowang, ‘Veer Patni’ of Havaldar Hangpan Dada who was conferred with the highest civilian award Ashok Chakra posthumously for his bravery. Lt Gen (Retd) Ravindra Thodge AVSM SM VSM, Consultant (Make in India), Ministry of Defence; Brig Sunil Vaze, VSM, BGS (Training), Headquarters Southern Command; Col (Retd) Sunil Deshpande VSM, and Chasen Lowang also shared the dais on this occasion.

Justice Sirpurkar lamented the fast eroding spirit of patriotism amongst people in general and youngsters in particular and appealed to them to be sensitive towards Military personnel. “We must try and go beyond the level of such felicitation programmes organised for military personnel. Prahaar’s felicitation is a small gesture in that direction and deserves praise,” he said. He spoke of pitiful conditions of soldiers who sacrificed their lives in 1962 war with China, being provided with sub-standard clothing to protect themselves from biting cold and vintage inefficient weapons. Today, he rued, people have forgotten them and their sacrifices.

Justice Sirpurkar flayed the self-proclaimed experts who participated in debates on television shows and engaged in meaningless chat rubbish, without knowing the facts of the issue, particularly related to Defence Services. “They have neither seen a rifle nor a bullet. Yet, their opinion is aired with pomp and authority,” he said. He also lamented the raising of slogans against India in one of the prestigious Universities under the garb of right to freedom of speech. “One must keep examples of Veer Patnis like Chasen Lowang before our eyes before talking irresponsibly about the Armed Forces,” he stressed.

Lt Gen (Retd) Ravi Thodge spoke of the dire need and expectations of Defence personnel from the people of the country to show respect to them. “All they ask for, in return of their sacrifice, is some respect, love and honour, when they doff their uniform, hang their boots and return to live a civilian life. Your help in accommodating them in civil life, sorting their problems will go a long way, in making them feel happy with a sense of belonging,” he said.

He also urged the present-day generation to avoid questioning a soldier’s nationalism. “When he joins a Paltan as a soldier, he has only one religion and that is ‘Dharma’. We have achieved literacy alright but is this our education? Are we educated to analyse or get swayed on ‘free thinking’ and curse the nation? Differences in opinion are there, but one should not forget that when Defence personnel put their lives on the block and have their integrity questioned, it is humiliation,” he reiterated.

Brig Sunil Vaze also spoke about the sacrifice made by soldiers like Havaldar Hangpan Dada, who dreamt of sacrificing their lives for the nation without caring for their religion and family. “For him, ‘Sainik Dharma’ and the country is foremost,” he said. Indian Army is one such organisation that has people from all castes and religions bonded by a single thread of patriotism, ready to sacrifice their lives. ‘Veer Patnis’ like Chasen Lowang are a big source of motivation and inspiration to soldiers. “It must be our endeavor to show respect and help our military personnel everytime and any where and not just remember them on August 15 and January 26, he added.

Chasen Lowang thanked the people of Nagpur profusely for the love and affection showered on her family and the felicitation. She was presented with a cash award of Rs 51,000/- to which another Rs 11,000/- was added by Justice Sirpurkar. She was presented with a three lion headed memento on the occasion along with a gift.

All the dignitaries on the dais, and off the dais that comprised Kumkum Vikas Sirpurkar, Manju Ravi Thodge, and Indrani Sunil Vaze were welcomed with bouquets presented by Shama Deshpande and Col (Retd) Sunil Deshpande. Children of Prahaar Military School and Vasudeo Leela Vidyakunj presented dance and song items that got a huge applause from the audience. The gathering was attended by many prominent former military personnel, non-commissioned officers, and school students.

Flt Lt Shiwalee Deshpande provided a unique patriotic flavour to the programme with her rich and befitting couplets on patriotism as she anchored the function and also proposed a vote of thanks.