The work on the new war memorial at Lichubagan park began around three months ago and is likely to be completed in another 9-10 months,” Agartala Smart City Project (ASCP) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Shailesh Kumar Yadav told IANS.
He said that at the Post Office Chowmuhani in the middle of the state capital Agartala was a war memorial that housed one battle tank and one artillery gun captured from East Pakistan during the 1971 war.
On Sunday, these were shifted to the Lichubagan park where the Albert Ekka war memorial is coming up.
“The Army also had a small war memorial at Lichubagan, dedicated to the martyrs of the 1971 war. Lance Naik Albert Ekka was awarded Param Vir Chakra for the battle of Gangasagar (in Bangladesh along India’s Tripura), which was a part of the 1971 war theatre. He saved Agartala from getting captured by Pakistani forces.”
A replica of the existing 40-feet victory pillar at the post office Chowmuhani has been constructed at the Lichubagan park,” said Yadav, who is also the West Tripura District Magistrate and Collector.
He said that it was a long standing demand of Indian Army to construct a bigger war memorial by combining both of these war memorials. The Indian Army and Tripura Sainik Board raised this issue with Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb after the BJP-led government came to power in the state in 2018.
The ASCP CEO said that the war memorial project was taken up under the Smart City Mission. He said that to ease traffic congestion in the city, the historic tank and the artillery gun were shifted to the under-construction war memorial.
Yadav said that according to Brigadier JP Tiwari (retd) of Tripura Sainik Board, the tank and the gun shifted on Sunday have no connection with erstwhile kings of Tripura. “Some unscrupulous elements are spreading rumours regarding this to create communal disharmony,” he said.
“The only aim is to fulfil the longstanding demand of our armed forces to create a befitting war memorial for the 1971 war and war hero Albert Ekka, a demand which remained unfulfilled for decades,” the ASCP CEO pointed out.
“The 1971 war comprised two major operations — Operation Cactus Lily and Operation Nut Cracker — and 57 Mountain Division was actively involved in both operations with fire power support from 57 Mountain Artillery Brigade,” pointed out defence analyst Manas Paul.
“Both operations progressed from Agartala westwards towards Dhaka. The war finally culminated on December 16, 1971 with the unconditional surrender of 93,000 Pakistani soldiers. Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora, Maj Gen Ian Cardozo, Lt Arun Khetrapal, Lance Naik Albert Ekka are a few of our war heroes,” the analyst added.
He underscored the valiant sacrifices made by officers and soldiers of the Indian Army, specially Lance Naik Albert Ekka (of Jharkhand) in the 1971 war.
Paul said: “The Indian Army, accompanied by the people of the then East Pakistan, fought the war most effectively, decisively and protected the sovereignty of both present day Bangladesh and India.”
(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at email@example.com)