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Armed Forces Veterans’ Day: Could have treated 90,000 Pak soldiers in any way, but we gave respect: Rajnath

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday said that the surrendered 90,000 Pakistan Prisoners of War (POWs) of 1971 war were given respect while in captivity in India.

“We could have treated Pakistani POWs in any way we wanted. However, such our culture and tradition, that we adopted completely humanitarian attitude and sent them back to their country with full respect,” Defence Minister said during his speech at 8th Armed Forces Veterans’ Day: Wreath Laying ceremonies & Ex-Servicemen Rallies – which was held at multiple locations across the country on Sunday.

During the 1971 war, the Pakistan Army surrendered to the Indian Army in Dhaka and more than 90,000 soldiers of the Pakistan army were held captive in India and were released following the Simla Accord between Indira Gandhi and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

The Defence Minister said that such treatment to enemy soldiers is one of the golden chapters of humanity.

“Our soldiers rise above family, caste and creed and only think about the nation. They effectively carry out their duties as they know for a fact that if the nation is secure, everything is safe. This gives them the moral strength to face every challenge,” the Defence Minister said.

He said that the soldiers who fought in the First and Second World Wars are remembered with respect across the globe.”We, Indians, too not only respect our own soldiers, but also those of other countries,” the Defence Minister said.On implementing One Rank One Pension scheme to provide health care and re-employment, he said that the government has been leaving no stone unturned to ensure the well-being of the veterans.

Singh also laid a wreath at the War Memorial and paid homage to the heroes for their sacrifice and dedicated service.

The Chief of the Naval Staff said that the Navy has been following a multi-pronged approach through proactive outreach, positive interactions and persistent communication to address various issues faced by the veteran community.

“We are privileged to have the continuing benefit of your experience and wisdom. We look forward to your invaluable guidance, unstinting support and forthright suggestions to help us better address issues faced by the Services and the veteran community,” the Naval Chief said.

Armed Forces Veterans’ Day is celebrated on 14th January every year to recognise the service rendered by the First Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Field Marshal KM Cariappa, who retired on this day in 1953. The day was first celebrated in 2016 and it is commemorated every year since by hosting such interactive events in the honour of the ex-servicemen.

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