Chandigarh, December 8: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday said his government was committed to ensuring that serving and veteran defence personnel get due respect and recognition, and hoped that other governments would follow suit.
Speaking at a panel discussion on ‘Military Inspection by Vir Sanghvi- An Interactive session with military Historians and Authors’, at the Military Literature Festival at the Lake Club here, Captain Amarinder, an ex-Army man, said his government had initiated a series of measures to ensure that defence personnel and ex-servicemen are extended due courtesy and respect by the civil administration.
To a question about the waning interest amongst youngsters in the Army as a career, the Chief Minister rejected the suggestion that it was because of a decline in the quality of personnel joining the armed forces. The Indian army continued to boast of the best quality but the problem was that the defence personnel were no longer getting their due respect from the political establishment and the civil administration, he said.
War veterans and ex-servicemen complain that they do not get any respect or response from the government to any of their concerns, the Chief Minister lamented, adding that his government had initiated several steps to correct the situation. His government, said Captain Amarinder, had directed the administration to ensure that veterans and serving Army and other defence personnel are not harassed when they visit government offices for any work.
He hoped other governments, both at the Centre and in states, would follow Punjab’s example in this regard. For an army man, ‘izzat’ (honour) is above all else and it is the government’s duty to ensure that he gets the same, said Captain Amarinder.
Captain Amarinder shared an incident when, as Chief Minister, he had transferred a Senior Police Officer from a district for showing disrespect to a senior retired army officer in the rank of Brigadier by making him to wait outside his office for long. He underlined the need to protect the honour and dignity of such officers, who were risking their lives and living in hardship to safeguard the nation and its people.
Replying to another query from an army officer, Captain Amarinder disclosed that he would soon write a comprehensive book on the 1971 war, followed by another one on Indian Military’s role in Sri Lanka.
The session saw Thomas Fraser, Alan Jefferys, Lt Gen T S Shergill and Ed Haynes participating in what turned out to be an open discussion on a variety of issues relating to war and peace across the world. Insurgency, which has emerged as a major security threat over the years, also came in for discussion.
Earlier, in a discussion on the ‘First Kashmir War 1947 – 48’, the Chief Minister said India made no military or territorial gains in 1965. No heavies were fired at all by the Indian Army during the battle, and even the field guns, along with ammunition, ran out, he pointed out, adding that the situation was pathetic and had the war continued for another week, “we would have ended up using stones to fight.”
Captain Amarinder narrated several incidents to highlight the bravery of soldiers who were ordered to the battlefield on a short notice, without adequate preparation. He lauded the courage of the Indian defence forces, who did not think twice before sacrificing their lives for their motherland.
Lt Gen A Mukherjee, Brig M S Gill, Brig I S Gakhal and Maj Gen Shivdev Singh joined Captain Amarinder and The Tribune Editor-in-Chief Harish Khare in the discussion.