NEW DELHI: Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh, who died on Saturday, will be given a state funeral on Monday and the national flag will fly at half mast at all government buildings in the national capital in his honour, the Home ministry said on Sunday. Leaders across different political parties paid their tributes and sent messages of condolence on passing away of Singh. President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi mourned the demise of Singh and hailed his role in the 1965 India-Pakistan conflict.
The last rites of the 98-year-old war hero, who passed away at the Army’s Research and Referral Hospital in Delhi, would be performed at Brar Square in Delhi Cantontment at 10 am on Monday. At Singh’s 7-A Kautilya Marg residence, Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, President Kovind, the three service chiefs and other dignitaries paid their respects to him. Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa, Naval chief Admiral Sunil Lanba, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat arrived first, followed by President Kovind and the defence minister. “Weather permitting, a fly-past will also be held to honour his memory,” Sitharaman said.
A spokesperson from the Defence Ministry said that Singh’s mortal remains will be taken to the funeral site from his residence in a gun carriage procession. He added that a gun salute will be given and a fly past will be organised before the final rites. Arjan Singh was the hero of the 1965 India-Pakistan war and the only Air Force officer to be promoted to five-star rank. He was entrusted with the responsibility of leading the IAF when he was only 44 years old, a task he carried out with elan. Singh, who had flown more than 60 different types of aircraft, had played a major role in transforming the IAF into one of the most potent air forces globally and the fourth biggest in the world. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian honour, in 1965.
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu also condoled the passing away of the late marshal and praised the latter’s contribution during the 1965 India- Pakistan war, calling him as an “icon” of the Indian Air Force. In his message, the vice president also recalled that the Indian Air Force named its Panagarh (West Bengal) air base after Singh on the occasion of his 97th birth anniversary last year. “He was the only living officer to have a base named after him. I convey my deepest condolences to the bereaved members of the family and join the nation in praying for eternal peace for the departed soul,” Naidu said.
Veteran BJP leader LK Advani, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Vice-President Rahul Gandhi and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram too mourned the demise of Singh. Advani said the armed forces have lost a “doyen and a leading light.” Advani said Singh was a “distinguished, valiant warrior and inspiring leader.” Sonia described Singh as an outstanding soldier and a diplomat who led from the front. She added that Singh’s “extraordinary contribution” would always be a source of inspiration for the country. Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “A soldier & diplomat par excellence. Marshal of IAF Arjan Singh’s demise is an irreparable loss. India has lost a true hero. Deepest condolences (sic).” Former minister P Chidambaram said Singh was the “epitome of courage and the embodiment of wisdom”.