NEW DELHI: Ninety-six-year-old Air Marshal Arjan Singh was certainly the show-stopper at the President’s felicitation for 1965 war veterans on Tuesday. As his name was called and he walked ram-rod straight towards President Pranab Mukherjee to take a salute, it was a sight in itself.
In a short but impressive function, the President also feted the three others who were martyred — Company Quartermaster Havildar Abdul Hamid, Lieutenant Colonel Ardeshir Tarapore and Chaman Lal, a fireman who saved a goods train and several lives by detaching burning bogies. Their relatives received the honour from the President: Rasoonan Bibi, wife of Havildar Hamid, Zarine Mahir, daughter of late Lt Col Tarapore, and Asha Rani, wife of Chaman Lal.
An exhibition-cum-fare has come up on India Gate lawns as part of the golden jubilee of the 1965 war — an occasion partly been marred by boycott calls from another set of veterans, agitating over the One Rank, One Pension demand, many of whom boycotted the felicitation.
Singh is the only Indian Air Force officer, who was promoted as Five-Star General. As he walked up to the President, with a stick in hand, all pride intact, and offered a salute, the ceremonial hall at Rashtrapati Bhavan broke into loud applause. As a squadron leader during World War II, Singh was involved in the Arakan Campaign against the Japanese in 1944 for which he received the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Vice-President Hamid Ansari, LS Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, former PM Manmohan Singh, BJP leader L K Advani, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and three services chiefs were present.