Kirkee, Pune, 31 January 2024
General Manoj Pande, Chief of the Army Staff laid a wreath and dedicated the Expanded Bombay Sappers War Memorial at Bombay Engineers Group and Centre, Kirkee to commemorate it’s Centenary.
A commemorative postage stamp was also released by the Chief of the Army Staff on the occasion of the War Memorial Centenary to immortalize the revered status of the Bombay Sappers War Memorial. Gen Pande thanked the Department of Posts for having facilitated the event in a time bound manner.
The Bombay Sappers War Memorial is a hallowed structure standing tall in memory of the soldiers who have made the Supreme Sacrifice. The expanded War Memorial includes two arched rows of ascending walls bearing names of each of the Bravehearts and a digital kiosk established to locate each name for the visitors.
Addressing a gathering of over 3000 personnel including soldiers of the SIKH LI and MARATHA LI Marching Contingents, the Chief of the Army Staff conveyed his compliments to The Bombay Sappers for their outstanding professionalism in rendering combat engineer support to the field formations of the Army and in Nation Building activities. Recounting the exploits of the Engineer units, he expressed satisfaction at their contribution ranging from the excellent work being done in the tough terrain of Ladakh to the role in North Sikkim during OP TEESTA.
The Chief of the Army Staff lauded the training imparted to the first two batches of Agniveers at the Training Centre and stated that the feedback from units has been encouraging. He expressed satisfaction that introduction of new training methods and technology such as simulators and video-based training has ensured optimal and focussed training during the 31-week duration. He exhorted the Commanding Officers to ensure their smooth integration in the units and expressed confidence that they will excel while in service and prove to be model citizens when they step out of uniform.
The Army Chief also interacted with members of the expedition teams who formed part of three challenging expeditions undertaken to commemorate the War Memorial Centenary. The Mountaineering Expedition to Mount Nun, a 7135m high peak in the Kargil sector was successfully summitted on 08 October 2023. The team comprising of 28 members braved inclement weather and harsh terrain with Nb Sub Shankar Ukleekar of 112 Engineer Regiment making the supreme sacrifice while negotiating a 1000m long ice wall. The deceased JCO’s gallant actions to ensure that the balance team kept moving ahead despite his own precarious situation has immortalized him amongst Bombay Sappers fraternity.
The Chief of the Army Staff announced institution of the Uklekar Adventure Award for the Best Bombay Sapper in Adventure with the inaugural award being won by Lance Havildar Tejinder Singh, who was part of the summit team.
The East West Paramotor Expedition from Kibithu to Kutch entailed a flight of over 3460 Kms by each Paramotor while the North South Microlight Expedition from Kashmir to Kanyakumari traversed 4650 Kms in formation flying with two fixed wing and two powered hang gliders over difficult terrain and weather conditions. The Chief of the Army Staff interacted with the team members and conveyed his appreciation to each one of them for their spirit, grit and courage and awarded 13 commendation cards to personnel of the three expedition teams and Bombay Sapper personnel posted at BEG Khadki for their exceptional performance.
As part of the events commemorating Bombay Sappers War Memorial Centenary, Dr Sudhir Sawant, son of Late Subedar Shrirang Sawant presented his father’s Shaurya Chakra to the General Manoj Pande, Chief of The Army Staff, at the Bombay Sappers Centre at Khadki. The late Subedar Sawant was awarded the Shaurya Chakra on 26 Jan 1988 for a gallant rescue operation undertaken by him while conducting flood relief operations on 29 Jul 1986. The JCO was involved in rescue of civilians in village Katun located about 40 Km from the town of Kota. Despite being advised to delay his efforts, till the water level receded in the Aru river, Subedar Sawant steered the boat himself through fast rapids and treacherous rocks bringing people to safety by making multiple trips through the in spate river. In the third trip, the boat struck a rock and overturned with all occupants being thrown in the river. He continued to guide people across by encouraging them to swim while being conscious he was being drawn towards the mainstream by the strong currents. Undeterred, he continued pushing people to safety and in doing so, got struck on the head by a submerged rock. The braveheart was unable to emerge from the depths and made the supreme sacrifice while being engaged in saving numerous lives. For his supreme sacrifice, Subedar Shrirang Sawant was awarded Shaurya Chakra (Posthomous). The Chief of the Army Staff accepted the Medal on behalf of the Group and assured Dr Sawant that Subedar Shrirang Sawant and his exploits will live on forever in the glorious history of the Bombay Sappers.