HT Editorial| In recognition of the unsung warriors
Since time immemorial, human beings have been in conflict with each other. And for as long as they have been warring, animals of all kinds have stood faithfully by their side, fighting alongside them. From pigeons that carried messages across seas from one region to another to horses that rode into battle carrying men on their backs, animals have unfailingly been at the service of men.
On Thursday, the Hindustan Times reported that India is planning to honour these heroes by creating the country’s first war memorial for animals at Remount and Veterinary Corps (RVC) Centre and College in Meerut. RVC is also where the Indian Army breeds, rears and trains dogs, mules and horses. The memorial will honour the service of 300 dogs, 350 handlers, and horses and mules that have dedicated their lives to the service of the nation. These animals have won one Shaurya Chakra, six Sena medals and around 600 commendation cards for their contribution to the counter-terror operations in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast. Trained in various fields, including transportation of personnel and equipment and explosive and mine detection, and search and rescue, these animals have served in ways that are often beyond human capabilities.
By chiseling their names in the granite walls of their very own memorial, which is likely to be similar to the National War Memorial, India will be acknowledging the indispensible role of non-human, furry comrades whose valour, courage and devotion to their handlers (and, in turn, to their country) has helped. This falls in line with the move made in 2018 to ensure that service animals are not euthanised at the end of their service, but, instead, sent to retirement homes for the rest of their lives. The memory of our soldiers, both human and animal, will now stand the test of time.