Yeh Ek Shaheed Smarak Hai…..

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The picture of the instruction board is from outside the Jaswantgarh war memorial in Tawang. The first point states “This is a war memorial, maintain its honour“. The second one states “Please don’t donate stuff”. I have highlighted it for your convenience.

This is instructive of how the Army works. It does not extort money for profits and certainly not from its dead soldiers. Looked at with a commercial lens, a war memorial is a goldmine of opportunities to make money. Patriotism in the hands of the opportunist is a commodity that is begging to be milked for profits and there is nothing more lucrative than a dead soldier. It is not just in terms of making money. A dead soldier is useful in other ways too. Used intelligently it hides the mediocrity of the mediocre and can give respectability to the scoundrel.

To all those trying to score political capital over the dead bodies of soldiers, you should try paying a visit to the Jaswantgarh war memorial. It is on the way to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, some 30 Kms before you reach the Tawang town. It is an arduous journey no doubt but the views will keep you enthralled. And when you reach the memorial, take some time to read this board. Once you have read the board then just enter without any apprehensions. There are no entry tickets. Once you enter, do notice a section where Chinese soldiers are given due respect. The very Chinese soldiers who are the reason these Indian soldiers needed a memorial in the first place. Maybe it will teach you a thing or two as to how you honour your soldiers.

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And yes once you are out, on the opposite side of the road there is a tea stall run by the Indian Army. Have some tea before you leave. And oh don’t worry. The tea is provided free of cost.

By George Aikara

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