New Delhi, Jun 27 (UNI) President Pratibha Devisingh Patil, Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today expressed grief over the death of Field Marshal HFJ Manekshaw, describing him as a legendary soldier who led by example.
''Field Marshal Manekshaw was a legendary soldier who as the commander of our army played a critical role at a very important and crucial juncture in our history during the 1971 war,'' Ms Patil said in a condolence message.
Throughout his long and distinguished career, he always led by example and therefore was able to inspire his men and get the best out them, the President said.
''In his passing away, the nation has lost a true patriot who shall always remain an inspiration for our armed forces as well as for the nation,'' she said.
Mr Ansari said it was with profound sorrow that he received the news of the death of the country's first Field Marshal.
The Field Marshal had made lasting contributions for defending the country against all odds. His leadership and courage was evident during the 1971 war. As a soldier and Field Marshal, ''he will always remain an inspirational figure for the members of the defence forces and every citizen. His services to the country will always be remembered.'' Dr Singh described the Field Marshal as one of the country's greatest soldiers ''whose legacy will continue to live with us for years to come.'' ''Military historians will forever record the brilliance and the inspirational leadership of Sam Bahadur,'' said Dr Singh in a condolence message.
The Prime Minister recalled how ''he served the Indian Army with great distinction for over four decades beginning with the very first military engagement when free India was dragged into the mountains of Jammu and Kashmir. Sam Bahadur was the architect and the inspiring leader of the operations and the consequent military victory in what is now Bangladesh.'' Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw passed away at the Military Hospital in Wellington, Tamil Nadu in the early hours of the day.
''The people and the Government of India express their deepest admiration and their profound gratitude for his inspiring leadership as Chief of the Army Staff,'' the condolence message read.
The Prime Minister said the Field Marshal had inspired several generations of Indian soldiers and officers over the past half a century.
''I am sure, his legacy will continue to live with us for years to come,'' he added.
UNI SN/NAZ RP PM1414