Mumbai: A combined memorial for the 357 Army and Assam Rifles personnel killed while fighting insurgency in Nagaland was inaugurated on Saturday.
The ‘Veer Smriti’ memorial, built at Mokokchung in the northeastern state by the Assam Rifles, was inaugurated by Inspector General Assam Rifles (North) Maj Gen Pradeep Chandran Nair, a senior official told PTI.
“This memorial is the first of its kind in Nagaland, which also has the famous Second World War Cemetery at Kohima.
‘Veer Smriti’ is spread over 13,500 sq ft and was built by 44 Assam Rifles,” the official said.
Nagaland has seen decades of insurgency, leading to the loss of lives for the security forces and Naga insurgents.
Since 1955, when insurgency first began in Nagaland, lives of 357 personnel from the Army and Assam Rifles have been lost, he said.
“The Assam Rifles authorities in Nagaland felt it was necessary to have a memorial to commemorate the supreme sacrifice made by our men in uniform and one which also acts as a beacon of motivation for future generations in the state,” he said.
In the last six decades, many battalions from the Army and almost all battalions of Assam Rifles participated in the counter-insurgency operations, the official said.
The memorial has been designed in a concentric circular form, with outer rectangular flower beds as boundary wall. The central arena, the heart of the memorial, comprises two circular podiums with a 19-feet high main memorial mast having three converging posts signifying the Army, Air Force and Assam Rifles.
The names of the 357 martyrs have been carved, each on a single granite stone.
Mokokchung was chosen as the site for the memorial due to its centrality, richness in culture and because a large number of soldiers were martyred in the district in the line of their duty, he said.
One of the most decorated officers of the Army, Colonel N J Nair, Ashok Chakra, Kirti Chakra of 16 Maratha Light Infantry, was also martyred in Mokokchung in 1993, the official said.
From Nagaland, the martyrs include Naik Nikuni Mao, Riflemen Lukhubi Sema, Alamba Ao, Y Nokte, Dule Luwang, Kumar Rangmai, H Konyak and AS Ringphami, all from Assam Rifles and Rifleman Hungna Konyak from 164 Territorial Army Battalion.
The memorial is located in the Assam Rifles Battalion location and is expected to become an important place of visit for locals, ex-servicemen and other visitors to Mokokchung, he said.
The memorial was conceptualised, planned and executed by the Inspector General Assam Rifles (North), he said.
The nearly 55,000-strong Assam Rifles has been guarding India’s 1,640-km long border with Myanmar and also parts of Arunachal Pradesh border opposite China during war under the operational control of the Indian Army, he said.
The Assam Rifles, which was raised in 1835, has also been carrying out counter-insurgency operations in militancy-infested states in the northeastern region.