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Dialogue only way to restore peace between India and Pakistan, says 101-year-old war veteran

In an interview, the centurion, who celebrated his 101st birthday on August 21, said that wars and surgical strikes only lead to tit-for-tat consequences.

punjab Updated: Sep 30, 2018 12:22 IST
Mohit Khanna
Mohit Khanna
Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
Pakistan,India,war veteran
101-year-old major (retired) Gurdial Singh Jallanwalia with other army officers during the Gunners Day celebrations at the Army Institute in Ludhiana on Saturday. (HT Photo)

When the government observed the surgical strike day on Saturday, veteran major (retired) Gurdial Singh Jallanwalia, 101, one of the oldest artillery men, said dialogue is the only way to restore and maintain peace. The veteran, who has fought four wars, including the second world war, was honoured during the 191st Gunners Day.

In an interview, the centurion, who celebrated his 101st birthday on August 21, said that wars and surgical strikes only lead to tit-for-tat consequences.

Do you think that war brings peace?

No, absolutely not. Wars are absolutely unnecessary. It could never bring peace. It could only trigger animosity. Continuous dialogue is the only method to bring peace.

What is your learning after fighting so many wars?

Sometimes, a war is the price which mankind pays for peace. War is a great motivator. It teaches soldiers to kill or else, he will be killed. However, it should be the last resort as many lives are lost. In 1939 and 1940, I fought a battle for British Army in Waziristan, now in Pakistan. During the second world war in 1944- 1945, I was posted in Burma (now Myanmar) fighting the Japanese. In 1947 and 1948, I led a battle in Jammu and Kashmir region and during 1965 war, I was posted in Amritsar.

Is there really any winner in a war?

There is no winner in a war. It only breeds enmity. Many of my friends who had fought the second world war with me, had gone to the other side of the Radcliff line after partition. I have lost all my contacts with them. I do not know whether they are living or dead.

Your favourite memory?

My favourite memory is when I was fighting the enemy during the second world war in Mandalay city of Burma (now Myanmar). I was shot on the lower abdomen by a Japanese who was merely 20-feet away from me and I thought my end was near. Somehow, the Japanese could not fire a second shot and my fellow soldier was quick to shoot him down.

How do you feel to outlive friends?

I feel really fortunate to be alive and active even at this age. With the grace of God, I still walk without any support. I am a teetotaler and like to have cold drink and cake. I don’t feel lonely. My four generations have served in the armed forces. My father Dilip Singh was risaldar in army. My sons and grandsons are also serving in the forces.

How has it changed over the decades?

I have witnessed a change in the warfare. Earlier, it was man-to-man combat but nowadays, everything is technology-driven. During the second world war, we were dependant on messengers. Now, mode of communication has advanced dramatically.

What makes a war hero?

For me, every soldier going to war is a war hero. Every solider goes to the front with a sole motive to protect the motherland and its people. The risk is equal to all but some get honoured, while others don’t.

Are you satisfied with what war veterans get?

The government must address the grievances of ex-servicemen. The issue of One Rank One Pension (OROP) should be resolved at the earliest. It is shameful that the former soldiers have to stage ‘dharnas’ for their rights.

First Published: Sep 30, 2018 12:19 IST