India honours 1962 martyrs for the first time in 50 yrs

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New Delhi, Oct 20: India on Saturday remembered and paid homage to soldiers who fought against Chinese in the 1962 war. Defence Minister AK Antony, Marshal of the Indian Air Force and senior most living officer Arjan Singh along with the three service chiefs were present on the occasion to honour the martyrs at the Amar Jawan Jyoti here.

Antony said on the occasion that India of today is much stronger than it was in 1962. He said the country has only grown stronger under successive governments and today it is capable of defending every inch of its border. He added that India has also been successful to work out border solutions through peaceful talks.

The war in 1962 started on Oct 20 and about 4,000 soldiers and officers were killed in the nearly month-long conflict. The 4th Division that had earned great admiration for its fight during the Second World War was demolished and the Indian Army was forced to retreat from the Arunachal Pradesh, which was then known as NEFA.

Although the war ended in a great humiliation for the Indian side, but there were scattered incidents of great individual pride. For example, at Walong in Arunachal, the Chinese were held back by the indomitable Sikhs and Gurkhas amid all adversity. At Rezang La, Major Shaitan Singh Bhati and his men stopped the enemy at Rezang La.

However, the Indian Defence Ministry have chosen to ignore the war and the martyrs all these years till they were remembered with great honour on Saturday. The defence minister and the Field Marshal laid the wreaths while paying homage to the martyrs.

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