New Delhi, June 30 : Defence Minister A K Antony and the Chiefs of three wings of the defence forces paid formal tribute to India's first Field Marshal, Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw, on Monday morning.
Antony and the three service chiefs signed a condolence book taken out in memory of Field Marshal Manekshaw after a controversy erupted over their absence at his state funeral at Udhagamandalam on Friday.
On being asked by reporters what took him so long to pay his homage, Antony said, "Today only it was decided, that's why today it is signed. The Government took a decision of a state funeral. That is the government's decision. This government only gave active Field Marshal position to our late Field Marshal, nobody else. That show's how much esteem we are having for this Field Marshall. Other things we will consider collectively."
Most chose to send messages of condolence to the bereaved family of one India's most popular and decorated soldiers despite them being in the country.
While President Pratibha Devisingh Patil was in Indore on an official tour, the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and the Defence Minister A.K.Athony were in New Delhi, but chose to send messages of condolence.
The Government decided to send Minister of State for Defence M.Pallam Raju to represent it at the funeral.
From the side of the armed forces, the incumbent Chief of Army Staff, General Deepak Kapoor, was in Russia on an official visit. The army deputed the Vice Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Milan Naidu to represent it. Air Chief Marshal Fali Major deputed his Vice-Chief R.K. Jolly to represent the Indian Air Force at the funeral, while a rear admiral of the Southern Naval Command represented the Navy.
Field Marshal Manekshaw died at the Military Hospital in Wellington early on Friday at the age of 94. He was the country's eighth Chief of Army Staff and had a distinguished career in the armed forces for nearly four decades.
His moment of glory came when synchronised the Indian armed forces into a tellingly effective war machine to defeat Pakistan in the War of 1971, which led to the creation of Bangladesh.
In recognition of his services to the nation, he was made a Field Marshal by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi just 15 days before his superannuation as army chief.