Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday criticised “attempts to politicise” the defence forces, and said the armed forces were meant to report only to their regimental heads and not work at the behest of the political dispensation.
Speaking at the Remembrance Day ceremony here to pay homage to Commonwealth nations’ armed forces members who sacrificed their lives during World War I, the CM called for an immediate end to the “political interference” in the functioning of defence services, “to enable the officers and soldiers in the armed forces to discharge their duties efficaciously”.
This was necessary in the larger interest of the nation, and to secure its unity, integrity and security, he said.
The exemplary valour and indomitable courage of all those great soldiers in preserving the ethos of freedom, liberty and democratic values had remained largely unrecognised, Amarinder lamented, pointing out that nearly 74,000 Indian soldiers attained martyrdom and 67,000 were wounded in the historic War.
While most Indians were quite aware of the sacrifices made by millions of known and unknown people in the Independence struggle, the supreme contribution of those brave men who fought in the Great War had been largely forgotten, said the CM.
He called for aggressive propagation of the nation’s rich military history among the youth, to make them more aware about the rich and glorious legacy of the armed forces.
Underscoring the need to acclimatise the younger generation with the past events, Amarinder advocated inclusion of detailed chapters on India’s contribution both, World War I and II, in the school curriculum.
Referring to his recent visit to Turkey’s Gallipoli’s Helles and Turkish memorials, where he paid his respects to the martyred Commonwealth soldiers including Indians, the CM said there was a marked difference in the awareness levels of the youth about the military exploits than in India.
Paying his respects to the fallen soldiers, the CM said it was a sad moment but also a day to be proud of what our valiant soldiers did in the line of duty.
Quoting from his book ‘Honour and Fidelity – India’s military contribution to the Great War 1914-18’, Amarinder revealed that Indian soldiers who were summoned within 20 days after the start of the war hugely aided the British in the eventual culmination of the War.