INDIA. Mumbai: As part of the “Swarnim Vijay Varsh” celebrations, the Victory flame also known as ‘Swarnim Vijay Mashaal’ symbolizing India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war, was taken to the houses of 1971 war awardees on Saturday.
The flame was taken to the awardees, to pay tributes for their supreme sacrifice and the valiant service to the nation. The flame was taken to the houses of Veer Chakra awardees-Wing Commander (Retd) Bharat Bhushan Soni of Indian Air Force and Commodore Inderjit Sharma of Indian Navy, in Andheri West in northwest Mumbai.
No sooner the Victory flame arrived in Andheri, it was welcomed with a bugle call. The high-ranking army, Navy, and air force officers accompanied the torch and participated in the function organized in the housing complexes. Local MLA Dr. Bharati Lavekar and Corporator Yogiraj Dabhadkar greeted Wing Cdr Bharat Bhushan Soni with floral tributes.
Wing Commander (Retd) Bharat Bhushan Soni
On the occasion, the 77-year-old officer in his forceful voice (with no apparent signs of old age), narrated his thrilling experiences. He had run away from home to join the Indian Air Force at a young age in 1962 without informing his parents. Initial days were tough since the endurance and patience of newcomers was constantly monitored. He has no regrets about it since he had a very adventurous career in the air force in later days, he said.
“Touch the Sky” should be the motto. India’s victory in the Kargil war despite absolutely inclement weather proved that any adventure can be successful with dedication and devotion. In 1966 he met with an accident and his right knee cap was injured.However, he was undeterred. After a brief spell, he resumed duties, participated in various missions and the dedicated job continued till the end.
During operations against Pakistan in December 1971, Bharat Bhushan Soni (then Flight Lieutenant) was serving with a fighter squadron. During an enemy raid on an airfield on December 12, 1971, he took off and engaged one F-104 aircraft near the Gujarat coast. He flew his aircraft at almost supersonic speed at a low level and shot down the enemy aircraft. He displayed gallantry professional skill, and devotion to duty of a high order.
Wing Commander Soni described how the IAF personnel posted at Jamnagar worked day and night during the war and how they had to be constantly on their toes. “We become what we think”. As such we should think about the nation first. I appeal to youth to join the armed forces because it is the best career, he added.
Commodore (Retd) Inderjit Sharma
Commodore (then Lt. Commander) Inderjit Sharma was the commanding officer of an Indian Naval Ship, which attacked Karachi on the night of December 04, 1971. Despite the enemy’s shore gun batteries and the possibility of air attack, he repeatedly led his ship onto the enemy forces. His inspiring leadership enabled the Naval units to deliver a fatal blow to the Pakistan Naval forces. It was a result of his action, aided by other Naval units, that the major part of the enemy’s surface fleet was destroyed in one action.
In this action, Lt. Commander Sharma displayed gallantry, leadership, and devotion to the duty of a high order. The attacks of December 04, on Karachi harbour, broke the back of Pak Navy resistance and effectively shut the port. December 04 is celebrated as navy day every year.
The ceremony concluded amidst loud calls of Bharat Mata Ki Jai by all present, a true reflection of the josh and fighting spirit that was instrumental in India’s victory in the 1971 war.