KENDRAPARA: People visiting Kendrapara Autonomous College can now catch a glimpse of a chapter of India’s glorious history which helped carve out a separate nation back in 1971. A Russian T-55 tank, used by the Indian Army during the Bangladesh liberation war, stands proudly on the college campus where it has been displayed as a ‘war trophy’.
The armoured combat vehicle was obtained from the Directorate of Ordnance Services, Army Headquarters after approval and recommendation of former Chief of Army Staff and incumbent Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat. “The ‘war trophy’ was issued for display on the college campus to motivate students and NCC cadets to join the armed forces and also to instill a spirit of patriotism in them.
The tank, used in the India-Pakistan war of 1971, played its part in our country’s stupendous victory,” said principal Rajendra Tripathy. The college had to pay just Rs 1.14 lakh for the tank. “We will soon construct a concrete pedestal on college campus to display the trophy,” he said.
The T-55s destroyed as many as 58 Pakistani tanks in the 1971 war. Between 1960 and 1980, the tanks caused a great deal of panic among Pakistani Army personnel on the border. The tanks served the country for 40 years. The T-55, which weighs 37 tonne, is equipped with a 100 mm calibre gun, two 7.62 calibre machine guns and one 2.7 mm anti-aircraft gun. It is 27.6 feet long and 10.8 feet wide.
The height of the tank is nine feet. It is also enabled with night vision and protection from nuclear, biological and chemical explosions. The tank was used in the famous ‘Battle of Basantar’ during which 2nd Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal of 17 Poona Horse displayed supreme courage and was awarded India’s highest wartime gallantry award, the Param Vir Chakra posthumously. It was inducted into the Indian Army in 1968 and was in service until 2011.
War veteran Duryodhana Mohanty, 73, is among the few surviving soldiers who fought in the historic war. Expressing his delight over the tank’s display at the college, he said, “The Indian Army and ‘Mukti Bahini’ fought with Pakistanis and destroyed several tanks and killed scores of enemies with the help of T-55 tanks. It is a great day for me as one of the tanks used in the war is now on display at the college,” said Mohanty, a resident of Barunadiha village.