The Indian Army marked its 66th anniversary on Wednesday in Mumbai by honouring the martyrs at the Gateway of India. And for the first time, families of martyrs were adopted by local Army units to ensure that Army assistance is available to them in the long run.
Families of 18 martyrs were present at the function where Governor of Maharashtra K Sankaranarayan gave the Veerta Puraskar. Among the awardees was Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan’s mother. Unnikrishnan had died fighting terrorists during 26/11 at the Taj Mahal Hotel, situated right opposite the ceremony venue.
“It’s not about financial assistance. It’s about honour. I have not come to terms with the fact that Sandeep is not here anymore. I feel he is right here, somewhere,” his father, K Unnikrishnan told .
While there will be no financial assistance, the martyr’s families will be allowed to use Army infrastructure. Army schools, medical facilities and Army hostels will be open to them. This means that the families will be able to use most facilities that serving Army personnel get to use. For many, this is crucial.
Rajshri Mane, wife of martyred jawan Naik Kundlik Mane was emotional when NDTV spoke to her. She said, “My husband is like my god. My only responsibility will be to bring up my son and make him like my husband.” Naik Kudlik Mane was killed in an ambush along the Line of Control in the Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir. He hailed from Kolhapur in Maharashtra and has a little son.
Harshala Garje, who husband Major Atul Garje lost his life when his helicopter crashed, told , “This is society’s respect towards the martyrs. We are here to celebrate their bravery. We are still a part of the Army family.”
For the martyr’s families, life often becomes a struggle. This unique gesture to extend support will look after every need of the families of these bravehearts.