India pays homage to 1962 martyrs for first time

Paying homage to soldiers who fought in the 1962 Indo-China war, defence minister A.K. Antony on Saturday ruled out any possibility of the repeat of the war and said armed forces were confident of protecting the country against any such threat.

This is the first time that the Indian defence establishment has honoured the dead and participants of the 1962 war officially.

“I would like to assure the nation that India of today is not the India of 1962. Over the years, successive governments learning lessons from the past strengthened our capabilities and modernised our armed forces... we are confident armed forces will be able to protect the border in event of any threat,” he said on the sidelines of an event to honour the soldiers of the 1962 war on its 50th anniversary.

The defence minister was asked to assess the threat from China and India’s preparation to tackle it.

In the war, India suffered defeat at the hands of the Chinese Army which went to capture large portion of Indian territory.

The defence minister, who along with minister of state for defence M.M. Pallam Raju, Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh and the three services chiefs paid homage to the 1962 war heroes and laid wreaths at Amar Jawan Jyoti, said successive governments have learnt lessons from the war and strengthened military capabilities and developed infrastructure.

“We will vigorously continue to strengthen our capabilities,” the defence minister said.

Antony also noted that India was holding dialogue with China to find a solution to the long-pending border dispute and has established a mechanism to 'immediately settle' any tensions on the border.

Asked why did it take 50 years for the Government to honour the soldiers and martyrs of the 1962 war, the Defence Minister said, “Nothing changed. This is the 50th year and we thought this is the time the whole nation must pay our homage to the officers and jawans who lost lives to protect our border.”

Asked about criticism that the military leadership was not much involved in 1962 and the lessons learnt from it, Antony said, “The major lesson is that we have to strengthen our armed forces to protect our borders. That we are doing and now we are in a position to involve armed forces, intelligence agencies and all those involved in the protection of national security that process is much more strong.”

Asked when will the Government take a decision on the Henderson Brookes report on the 1962 war, the Defence Minister said, “Let me take a decision.”

He said all issues relating to setting up of the national war memorial at India Gate have been sorted out and it was in the final stages of being cleared by the government.

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