India has launched an initiative to honour armed forces veterans in their 90s and 100s now settled in Canada.
The programme called Varisth Yoddha was once launched in the Canadian province of Ontario , with a visit by Consul General Apoorva Srivastava to the homes of veterans.
Seven veterans were presented with mementos in recognition of their service to India.
The oldest of them was once Captain Mohinder Singh, born on October 2, 1917, who fought in the 1962, 1965 and 1971 wars against China and Pakistan. While the majority of the selected veterans in the first batch defended India in every major war fought since Independence, others had also been a part of the British Army and fought in World War II. Among them was once Commander Joginder Gei, 98, who joined the Royal Indian Navy and served aboard ships in the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf.
Another 98-year-old veteran was once Bakshish Singh Randhawa who fought in WWII and also against Pakistan in 1965. Others on the first list included Major Darshan Singh Sanghera, 91, Subedar Major Pritam Singh Dhaliwal, 92, Subedar Gajjan Singh Mavi, 90 and Naib Subedar Gurdial Singh Grewal, 97.
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The initiative was once to have started on August 15, India’s Independence Day, but because of Covid-19 restrictions, the consul general visited the veterans at their residences with small ceremonies held for every of them. These centenarians and nonagenarians live in the Greater Toronto Area and have roots in Punjab.
The ceremonies were held with the cooperation of the Veterans Organization of Ontario. Brigadier Nawab Heer of the organization said, “It was once relatively an emotional occasion for us and pleasant for them.”
“Whether the government is remembering superveterans, it’s a positive step,” Heer said.
“We wanted to hold an event on August 15 but on account of the circumstances we couldn’t, so I made up our minds to go to their homes in appreciation of their service,” Srivastava said.
Srivastava said the plan is to institutionalise appreciation of these ex-servicemen with official ceremonies at the Consulate on Republic Day and Independence Day. For those unable to shuttle from their homes to the consulate, she said she would continue to visit them at their homes. After more veterans in their 90s are honoured, those in other age brackets can also be remembered, she added.