October 5, 2022

Assam Rifles’ cycle run: A tribute to war heroes from Indian Army’s oldest paramilitary force

By Priyanka S. Raj

Laitkor, Shillong, Celebrating the glorious 75 years of India’s Independence, Assam Rifles organised 3,000 km Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav cycle rally from Shillong to New Delhi on September 5. The cycle rally was flagged off at Laitkor, Shillong by its Director General Lt Gen Pradeep Chandran Nair AVSM YSM.

The cycle rally which started its journey from Shillong plans to touch important places associated with India’s freedom movement en-route. The rally will include numerous interactions with locals to include them in the spirit of “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav”. A total of 30 contingents of Assam Rifles unit are participating in this rally.

The event also marked the presence of 95-year-old freedom fighter Shri Krishna Lahkar and their kins along with parents of Captain Clifford Nongrum and Major David Manlum, Kirti Chakra. Marking the remembrance of the saga of bravery and supreme sacrifice for the struggle of country’s Independence, freedom fighters and their next of kins were also felicitated by Assam Rifles DG.

Assam Rifles DG during his inaugural speech highlighted the role played by the oldest paramilitary force of the Indian Army towards peace and security in the Northeast. He added that through its various Civic Action Programmes, the Assam Rifles playing an important role towards development of the region. The force, which is popularly known as the Sentinels of the Northeast, like the rest of the country has engulfed itself in the celebrations of “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav”.

Speaking to this Defence Correspondent, the Assam Rifles DG said: “It’s the great moment organising the cycle rally as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav. This is our small effort in contributing to Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav by organising the Freedom Cycle Rally. We also invited the freedom fighters and their next of kins, the families of gallantry award winners who laid their lives in serving the nation as they have a big role to play in it.”

Conveying the message to freedom fighters, he said, “It means a lot for us to have their presence in this event and felicitate them. It needs a motivating, stimulating, inspirational moment while interacting with them.” he added.

Speaking on the vision of connecting youths of Northeast and encouraging them to join Armed Forces, Lt Gen Nair said, “We are trying to reach out to rural bright students and connect them, train them and make it fit to join Sainik Schools so that they can join Armed Forces.

The DG also mentioned that while he was posted in Nagaland as Inspector General, he was working on this model and therefore now, he wants to replicate the same in Meghalaya and NE.

While talking to one of the participants of the cycle rally Major Sudhan Preetham, 18 Assam Rifles, he said, “The rally commemorates 75 years of progressive India and the glorious history of its people, culture, achievements and also promotes the “Fit India Movement”. I had a great experience in knowing the seven sisters and culture of Northeast while being in Assam Rifles. On the other hand, I feel fortunate enough as I will be able to meet all the freedom fighters and gallantry awardees.”

Talking to one of the senior freedom fighter, named Krishna Lahkar, he said “Being at age of 95, it’s really a great moment to be here and watch the celebration of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav. It immensely inspires me and hence I want to live another five years.” He feels proud to be part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav cycle rally celebration. He expressed his gratitude to Assam Rifles and the Government of India as well for organising such events as part of India’s Independence and remembering the freedom fighters and honouring them.

On this occasion, parents of Captain Clifford Nongrum and Major David Manlum, Kirti Chakra expressed their gratitude to Assam Rifles for inviting them and remembering the saga of valour of their sons, which is etched into their heart forever.

As part of the flagging of celebrations, a Pipe Band Display was carried out by the Assam Rifles Pipe Band, which played patriotic tunes to raise the enthusiasm and fervour among the participants.

The Assam Rifles popularly known as the ‘Sentinels of the Northeast’ has committed itself towards peace and development of the region. It has carried out numerous activities such as cycle rallies in the past. This not only brings cohesiveness in the region but also plays a pivotal role towards nation building and unity thereby making it a “Force that Binds the Northeast”.

-The writer is a Meghalaya-based defence correspondent.

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