Retired senior officers of the Indian Army on Tuesday demanded that the country's highest civilian honour Bharat Ratna be conferred on military icon Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw posthumously.
"I would request the defence minister to use his position to confer the coveted title of Bharat Ratna on Field Marshal Manekshaw," Lt Gen (retd) Deepinder Singh said at a memorial service organised for the legendary former Indian Army chief.
Manekshaw, the war legend who scripted India's decisive victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war leading to the creation of Bangladesh, died at the Military Hospital in Wellington in Tamil Nadu June 27 after developing acute bronchopneumonia. He was 94.
No senior minister or armed forces chief had been present at the state funeral accorded to Manekshaw. At Tuesday's function at the NCC auditorium, however, Defence Minister AK Antony and three services chiefs, Army chief General Deepak Kapoor, Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta and Indian Air Force chief Air Marshal Fali Homi Major - arrived to pay homage to the Soldier's General.
Also present on the occasion were former army chief General JJ Singh and Lt General JFR Jacob.
The absence of Antony and the three services chief at Manekshaw's funeral had led to a controversy. Minister of State for Defence MM Pallam Raju was the seniormost central minister present at the funeral.
"We know the sentiments connected to Field Marshal Manekshaw and everybody respects his achievement," Antony said in response to the demand of conferring the highest civilian honour on Manekshaw.
The defence ministry attributed the low-key funeral given to Manekshaw to the absence of the rank of Field Marshal in the country's protocol list.
In a tribute to Manekshaw, an upcoming state-of-the-art multi-facility centre for higher military learning at the Delhi Cantonment here has been renamed the 'Manekshaw Centre'.