Himachal’s Sacrifice Since Independence

Mastram Dalel     ( cover story )

newsSoldiers hailing from Himachal have always remained at the forefront while safeguarding nation’s boundaries since independence. This hilly state has a tradition of making supreme sacrifices and has thus earned the name as Veer Bhoomi. It is corroborated by number of valiant soldiers hailing from Himachal who have have attained martyrdom at frontiers in different wars and operations. The state has also won highest number of gallantry awards, including country’s first PVC receipient Major Somnath Sharma. The state has also taken care of its ex-servicemen, war widows and family members by initiating a number of welfare schemes for their benefit. However, there are still pending issues that require Centre’s attention, including establishing a Himalayan Regiment, quota for Himachal for recruitment to the army, establishing a military institute and others.

Himachal’s Valour

* Soldiers have received 848 gallantry awards

* Four Param Veer Chakras out of 21 in country

* Ten Maha Veer Chakras out of 86 in the country

* Soldiers have also received Two Ashok Chakras and 19 Kirti Chakras

Himachali Martyrs in Different Wars

War     Number of Martyrs

1947    43

1962    131

1965    199

1971    195

Operation Meghdoot    35

Operation Pawan        25

Operation Vijay         54

Operation Prakaram    85

Other Operations       269

Leads in Gallantry Awards

newsHimachal has risen in stature if bravery awards won by soldiers hailing from this hilly state during war are any indication. Also known as Veer Bhoomi, Himachal is far ahead from other states as it has received 848 gallantry awards followed by Haryana (792) and Uttarakhand (776) at second and third places. Punjab has also touched the figure of 750 gallantry awards. Himachal Sainik Kalyan Welfare Department figures reveal that this hilly state has won four Param Veer Chakras out of a total of 21 awarded in the country. First PVC winner Major Somnath Sharma belonged to Kangra with other gallantry award winners being Hav Sanjiv Kumar, Capt Vikram Batra and Col. DS Thapa.

In addition, ten brave soldiers from Himachal have also received Maha Veer Chakra for showing exemplary bravery during different wars. There are 86 MVC winners in the country. The winners from Himachal include Major General Anant Singh Pathania, Brigadier Rattan Nath Sharma, Brigadier BS Mankotia, Colonel Kamaan Singh, Sonam Yazing, Havaldar Stenzin Phunchok, Subedar Major Kanshi Ram, General RS Dayal, General RL Rattan,. Inderbal Singh Bawa. Maha Veer Chakra is awarded to soldiers for showing exemplary bravery during war.

Other gallantry awards at par with PVC and MVC are  Ashok Chakra and Kirti Chakra that are given to soldiers and police for showing bravery during situations other than war for the internal and external security of the country. Himachal’s Major Sudhir Walia and Colonel Jasvir Singh are Ashok Chakra winners besides 19 other soldiers who have won Kirti Chakra. Kangra’s Havaldar Sanjeevan Kumar was given Kirti Chakra (posthumously) for his supreme sacrifice during attack on Pathankot air base recently.  Other Kirti Chakra winners include Colonel Amit Kumar, Promila Devi, Kanshi Ram, Ravinder Rana, Purshotam Das, Sanjiv Singh, Rakesh Pal, Anil Kumar, MC Rana, Brigadier Inderjit, AS Guleria, MS Pathania, Prem Chand, Madan Swarup, Rajinder Singh, DN Kanwarpal, and DR Mehra.

1210 Martyrs from Himachal

newsSoldiers hailing from Himachal have proved their bravery in different wars since independence as they have never hesitated to make supreme sacrifice while safeguarding the country. Until now, 1210 soldiers have attained martyrdom in different wars. Maximum contribution in freedom struggle was recorded from Kangra district as 36 soldiers attained martyrdom in 1947 out of a total of 43 from Himachal. In 1962 war, 131 soldiers from Himachal made supreme sacrifice including 72 from Kangra district. Similarly 69 soldiers were from Kangra as 19 soldiers attained martyrdom in 1965 war. In addition, 61 soldiers from Kangra again attained martyrdom out of 195 from Himachal in 1971 war. Besides, soldiers also sacrificed their lives in Operation Meghdoot (35), Operation Pawan (25), Operation Vijay (54) and Operation Prakaram (85). In other operations, 269 soldiers from Himachal were also martyred.

300 Students In NDA

Nearly 300 students have joined NDA in past five years with each getting Rs. 12000 annually after getting admission. Every year 30 students get training for NDA who are selected on merit basis.

Welfare Schemes

Sainik Welfare Board has enhanced financial assistance under different schemes including non-pensioners.  Currently Himachal has 111, 508 ex-servicemen, 940 war widows and 33,684 general widows. The board provides Rs. 50,000 for marriage of daughters of war widows, old age pension to ex-servicemen and widows and Rs. 3000 pension for those who  participated in Second World war.  Besides numerous other welfare schemes, there is also a provision of financial assistance of Rs. 30 lakh, Rs. 20 lakh, Rs. 15 lakh and Rs. 10 lakh for OVC and Ashok Chakra, Maha Veer Chakra, Kirti Chakra and Shourya Chakra winners.

Demand For CSD Depot

Search is on for opening a CSD Depot in Himachal as per emand of ex-servicemen. Until now, supply for Himachal is made from Jalandhar, Ambala and Pathankot CSD canteens. Sources said the locations is being looked at in Una district for the purpose. Its opening will also generate employment opportunities and benefit ex-servicemen. Efforts are also on for opening a Military Station probably between Una and Bilaspur districts.

War Museum at Dharamshala

Pawan Sharma

War Museum at DharamshalaAs the Nation celebrated 75th anniversary of the historic Quit India movement also known as ‘August Kranti’, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh dedicated Rs 9.85 crore ‘War Museum’ at Dharamshala to the people and laid foundation stone of Freedom Fighters Memorial at Dari. Chief Minister in his message to the people said that he salutes the great heroes of freedom struggle and all those valiant soldiers who have sacrificed themselves for sake of the nation. War Museum, he said, was a reminder of the sacrifices of the valiant soldiers of Himachal Pradesh, right from recipients of Victoria Cross to Parmveer Chakra. The museum would provide a peep, a flashback to learn and know about the nations first Param Vir Chakra recipient, the highest gallantry awardee, Major Somnath Sharma to late Captain Bikram Batra, Saurabh Kalia.

Virbhadra Singh* I salute the valiant men who became martyrs and their families for contributing for the sake of country since independence

-Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister

Prem Kumar Dhumal* We will again raise the issue of establishing a Himalayan Regiment with the Centre

-Prem Kumar Dhumal, Leader of Opposition

Pending Issues

Himachal is also known as Veer Bhoomi as its soldiers have made supreme sacrifices to safeguard the territorial sanctity of the country on numerous occasion.  However, this hilly state has not got its justified quota for recruitment to the army.  This demand has been lingering on now since long even as soldiers from Himachal are always at the forefront to make supreme sacrifices. Lt Col YS Rana said provision of quota for ex-servicemen and wards of ex-servicemen was introduced very late. The Centre should open an army institute and academy in Himachal, he added, pointing out many central and state departments were not providing facilities to ex-servicemen. There is another demand for constitution of Himalayan Regiment.

Lt Col YS Rana* Himachal is not getting quota according to population for recruitment to the army

-Lt Col YS Rana, Dharamshala

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