New Delhi, Aug 28 (IANS) India on Friday began commemorating the 1965 India-Pakistan war but many veterans have announced a boycott of official events because of protests over One Rank One Pension scheme.
President Pranab Mukherjee laid a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti, the memorial of unknown soldiers at the India Gate, a World War I monument.
It was on August 28 in 1965 when India captured Haji Pir Pass. The commemorative events will be spread over nearly a month.
While the plans from the government include felicitating veterans of the 1965 war, many veterans have announced to boycott the events as a hunger strike over One Rank One Pension (OROP) is on in the national capital.
“Many veterans have decided they will boycott all government celebrations unless the OROP issue is not sorted,” said Maj. Gen. Satbir Singh (retd), chairman of the United Forum of Ex-Servicemen.
But a group of veterans met Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.
On Friday morning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also paid his respects to the soldiers who fought in 1965.
Modi recalled the role of then prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, who died at Tashkent where he had gone to meet Pakistani military ruler General Ayub Khan for a truce.
“As we mark the 50th anniversary of the 1965 war, I bow to all brave soldiers who fought for our motherland,” Modi tweeted.
“The courage and bravery of our armed forces is very inspiring. They triumphed over every obstacle and protected India’s unity and integrity.
“We recall the dynamic leadership of Lal Bahadur Shastri. In 1965, he led from the front and was a key source of strength for the nation.”
The veterans paid homage to the martyrs at the Amar Jawan Jyoti.
At Jantar Mantar, where an agitation is on over OROP, the ex-servicemen also observed the war anniversary.
The veterans as well as some of the families of the martyrs were honoured and a two-minute silence was observed.
“Giving us OROP will be the real respect the government can give. Everything else is for show,” Lt. Gen. Ashok Agarwal (retd.), a veteran of the 1965 war, told IANS.
Nearly 3,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen died in the 17-day war.
India is marking the golden jubilee of the war on a grand scale. The commemoration, from August 28 to September 26, will involve all three wings of the armed forces.
Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh, who led the air force in 1965, will also be honoured.
A tri-service seminar will be held on September 1-2, with a commemorative exhibition slated from September 15-20 here.
On the evening of September 20, a musical evening will be held at the India Gate lawns, with patriotic songs setting the tone.
On September 22, the government will felicitate the war veterans.