After the government’s poor representation at the funeral of Sam Manekshaw generated a controversy, the army is now taking the initiative to honour Independent India’s best-known soldier. In a fitting tribute to the Field Marshal, who passed away after a prolonged illness in Wellington on June 27, the army has decided to hold a memorial service at the Delhi Cantonment in honour of Manekshaw.
Army chief General Deepak Kapoor, war veterans who served with the Field Marshal, top officers of the Gorkha Regiment and over 700 serving and retired officers will attend the service to be held on July 15. “Military leaders like Manekshaw are not born everyday. The service is just a way of showing that the legendary Field Marshal shall live on in our hearts forever,” a senior army official said.
The indifference of the UPA government and the service chiefs towards Manekshaw’s funeral has been widely criticised. Many had accused the UPA government of not assuring dignity in death to India’s first Field Marshal. Neither Defence Minister A.K. Antony nor any of the three chiefs turned up to salute the Field Marshal for the last time. Minister of State for Defence M.M. Palam Raju was the lone representative of the government at the funeral. The army chief could not make it to the funeral as he was on an official visit to Russia.
The memorial service will be attended by his daughter Maja Daruwala, Western Army commander Lieutenant General Tej Sapru, Sam’s former aide Lieutenant General Depinder Singh and several retired generals from the Gorkha Rifles. Among the events planned during the service includes a special prayer ceremony by religious teachers, a slide show capturing Sam’s life and speeches by the army chief and Manekshaw's daughter Maja.