Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sacrifice of ‘Fazilka saviours’ recalled - Vijay Diwas tomorrow

Praful Chander Nagpal

Fazilka, December 14
In the border village of Asafwala, seven kilometers from here, a magnificent memorial to the 1971 Indo-Pak war is situated in the Fazilka sector as a testimony to the gallantry of valiant war heroes, who laid down their lives defending this strategically important town from falling into the hands of Pakistan.

In the 1971 war, Pakistani forces were determined to capture the strategic border area surrounded by Pakistan from three sides (which is called chicken's neck in military parlance) when the war began on December 3, 1971. Bomb shells from the Pak mortars wreaked havoc in the town and in villages of the border area. A fierce man-to-man battle was fought in this area. Pak forces made some advances and captured some Indian territory and the strategic Beriwala bridge in Fazilka sector. Indian Army jawans not only stalled the advancing Pak forces from three sides standing like impregnable Rock of Gibraltar but they pushed them back as well.

About 226 brave officers and jawans of Four Jat Regiment, three Assam Regiments and 15 Rajput Regiment of the Indian Army attained martyrdom in the war which continued for two weeks. After the cease-fire, it was not possible to carry out the cremation of the deceased Armymen as the bodies of the war heroes were badly decomposed by the time of ceasefire on December 17, 1971. The indebted citizens of Fazilka and the rural areas with the cooperation of the Armymen performed collective cremation of the mortal remains of the war heroes in a befitting way at village Asafwala. A 55-feet long pyre was prepared and collective cremation was done with the recitation of hymns from all religious scriptures.

Supreme sacrifices and acts of valour of these jawans moved the residents of the area so much that they decided to raise a memorial in the memory of these jawans whom the people of the area acknowledged as the 'Saviours of Fazilka'.

They constituted Shaheedon Ki Samadhi Committee, Asafwala, Fazilka, which has been looking after the memorial complex in a decent way.

Giani Zail Singh, who was then the chief minister of Punjab, unveiled the memorial on September 22, 1972.

Since then, the memorial which is considered to be the best privately managed war memorial, became a historical spot for all dignitaries visiting this area. Every year, a Shaheedi Mela is organised on the war memorial.

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