The celebrations of 73rd Republic Day were a big affair at Noida Shaheed Smarak, Sector 29. With the national flag and Defence forces flags fluttering majestically in the background and adding to the great ambience of the memorial, it was a site to behold. Covid 19 precautions were in force throughout the celebrations.
To keep the camaraderie alive, veterans and citizens of Gautam Buddh Nagar, paid homage to their 38 gallant martyrs.
Lt. Gen GL Bakshi, Chairman of Sanstha laid the first wreath on the base of the cenotaph. Thereafter, LT. Gen SK Singh, CEO of Shaheed Smarak, Col, Chhibber, Flt Lt Naresh Sharma, Mrs Thapar with families and other NOK's of martyrs, Mrs Jyoti Rana, Principal and students of Army Public School, Lt. Gen. Surinder Verma, Lt. Gen Khurana, Maj. Gen DK Sen, Brigadiers Bali, Shashi Vaid, Group Captain S Manocha, Cols JP Singh, OP Mehta, IP Singh, CK Sharma, Venish Rai, Mahendra Kumar, Commander Narinder Mahajan, Members of Executive Committee of Sanstha and citizens of Gautam Budh Nagar paid floral tribute.
Cdr. Narinder Mahajan informed CitySpidey, "Annual wreath-laying function will be on 17th Feb 2022. General MM Naravane, PVSM, AVSM, SM, VSM, ADC Chief of the army staff will be the chief guest and will present the souvenir".
Nargis Naqvee, wife of martyr Sqn. Ldr I.H. Naqvi, who was martyred in Operation Meghdoot says, "Every generation of our family will remember what he did for our India. Today when we come to pay homage, all our grandchildren have accompanied us. They cheerfully pay tribute to their grandparent."
At the time when he was martyred, his son was only 4 years old. It's been 37 years since but still she takes great pride in talking about her husband.
Roli Thapar, who lost her brother-in law in Kargil war, says, "This is our tradition now to visit this place, one of our most important rituals. It is not just a place, it is a temple for us. We come here, bow our heads and pay our respect."
Uma Nauriyal, wife of Major Anurag Nauriyal says, "When he lost his life serving his country, our children were only 6 and 7 years old. The day was 23 October, 1990. It's been a very long journey since but he has always been with me. He was a very optimistic man".
While talking about the days spent with him, she says, "He always kept his uniform ready, bag packed! Whenever he'd leave for duty, he used to say, "Zinda rahe to inshallah phir mileage". But when he went for 'OP Rakshak' mission, he was martyred and never came back." With tears in her eyes, she says that these tears are not of sorrow but of pride.
Brigadier S. K. Dewan, who is now 84 years old, was also present in the ceremony. He has been a witness and part of three wars- the Ladakh China war in 1962, the India Pakistan war in 1965, and the India Pakistan war in 1971. He showed us his hand which had a bullet wound. He says, "I am currently suffering from cancer. I have already lost my life partner and son. We soldiers are strong by mind, body and heart. My life's motto is to be happy and keep others happy."