Tsunami Memorial unveiled

The defence chiefs converged at the Air Force base in car Nicobar.

india Updated: Dec 26, 2005 10:40 IST

As the clock struck 6.29 am on Monday, an eerie silence prevailed at the Air Force base at Car Nicobar reminding everyone of the devastating tsunami and sea quake of last year while Nicobarese tribals in interior hamlets lighted candles to commemorate the first anniversary of the disaster.

Through the meandering roads of Kakana and Malacca, in the vicinity of the Air Force base, families of many victims of the tsunami held a silent prayer moving from village to village to remember their kins lost to the waves.

The chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force converged at the Air Force base as a Tsunami Memorial was dedicated to the nation in memory of the dead and departed.

In the Jayanti village another memorial by the Nicobar district administration was unveiled.

In Port Blair, an all religion prayer was held at the water sports complex adjoining the coast followed by a two-minute silence from 6:30 am to 6:32 am in memory of those who perished in the tsunami. Minister of State for Home Affairs S Raghupati was present on the occasion.

A rally of students from various schools of Port Blair began from the national memorial Cellular Jail and went through the town, which wore a deserted look as shops downed shutters in the first half of the day to remember last year's devastation.

A photo exhibition- comprising pictures of tsunami victims and the vignettes of the devastation wreaked by killer waves- was unveiled at Port Blair's Netaji Stadium.

Of the several memorials, built to pay homage to the missing and dead, the most striking and symbolically important is the one built at Car Nicobar by the Andaman and Nicobar Command and dedicated to the nation.

The memorial is exactly 21 feet tall, the very height to which the wave wall rose swallowing everything in its way as it roared towards the shore shortly after daybreak on December 26, 2004.

On top of the memorial, unveiled on Monday, is the Air Force mascot - the eagle - looking seawards as if boasting of its preparedness to face umpteen more calamities.

Paying tribute to the memory of 121 people killed in Car Nicobar, 11 of them from the forces, one of the four faces of the memorial says 'Inki Atma Amar Rahe' (may their souls rest in peace). Names of the deceased have been engraved on the rest of the faces of the memorial.

The Port Blair memorial has been constructed facing an already existing Martyrs' Memorial arch and matches its architectural grandeur brick by brick.

Apart from these memorials in Car Nicobar, capital Port Blair and Car Nicobar's Jayanti village, there are 14 more in as many habitable islands across the emerald green archipelago.

Each of these memorials has been built at a cost of over Rs five lakh on an average at sites decided by the Tribal Council.

All these memorials will have small beautification projects in the vicinity.

First Published: Dec 26, 2005 09:54 IST