India mourns death of Field Marshal Manekshaw

June 27th, 2008 - 4:08 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, June 27 (IANS) The nation Friday mourned the death of one of its greatest military heroes since independence, former Indian Army chief Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw who crafted India’s stupendous victory in the 1971 war with Pakistan. Manekshaw, 94, died at the military hospital at Wellington in Tamil Nadu early Friday after developing acute bronchopneumonia.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led the nation in paying tribute to Sam Bahadur, as he was affectionately called by the troops who served under him, describing him as one of India’s greatest soldiers and “a truly inspiring leader”.

“He served the Indian Army with great distinction for over four decades beginning with the very first military engagement free India was dragged into in the mountains of Jammu and Kashmir,” Singh said in his condolence message.

“Sam Bahadur was the architect and the inspiring leader of the operations and the consequent military victory in what is now Bangladesh.”

“Military historians will forever record the strategic brilliance and the inspirational leadership of Sam Bahadur,” the prime minister added.

In his condolence message, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said: “He was one of the most decorated officers of the Indian Army. In his demise, the nation has lost a great soldier, a true patriot and a noble son.”

“Sharp and witty till the end and imbued with an indomitable fighting spirit, Manekshaw will continue to live on in the minds of committed citizens and will inspire them to take the nation forward,” Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Fali Homi Major said in his condolence message.

“Manekshaw’s greatest contribution was restoration of confidence of the Indian Army after the (Chinese) debacle of 1962 and leading India to victory in the 1971 war (that resulted in the creation of Bangladesh),” said noted security analyst Commodore (retd) C. Uday Bhaskar.

“He demonstrated the highest level of politico-military astuteness by getting the army in shape on one hand and dealing with the then prime minister Indira Gandhi,” Bhaskar, a former deputy director of think-tank Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, added.

“It is sad news that we got in the morning. For the nation and the armed forces, he has been the greatest military leader since independence,” said former army chief Gen. V.P. Malik.

“He was also a great communicator and motivator. He had the knack of inspiring people just with his presence. He had a high level of integrity and uprightness.” Malik added.

This sentiment was echoed by Lt. Gen. (retd) R. Madan Gopal, a former Director General of Military Operations.

“Despite his advancing age, Sam carried himself with dignity and I am proud to have been in the Gorkha regiment to which he belonged. He touched the lives of every army officer and jawan who came in contact with him, inspiring a fierce faith that no one else could have done,” Gopal said.

The Delhi Symphony Society (DSS), of which Manekshaw was president for almost 20 years, also remembered him.

“His biggest day was when he welcomed (conductor) Zubin Mehta in 1994 for a concert by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra at the Indira Gandhi indoor stadium,” said DSS secretary Gautam Kaul, a former head of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force.

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