The Karewa highground in Badgam, witnessed a major battle fought by the brave soldiers of Indian Army on November 3, 1947 to prevent the Kabaili raiders from reaching the strategic airport which eventually proved decisive in saving Srinagar.
Defence Minister Mr Manohar Parrikar paid homage to Maj Somnath Sharma, the hero of that battle who had attained martyrdom while leading his men to defeat the raiders' designs despite being heavily outnumbered. For this exceptional bravery and sacrifice Maj Somnath Sharma was awarded the first Param Vir Chakra, the highest gallantry award in the country.
Accompanied by the Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh, Northern Army Commander Lt Gen DS Hooda, Chinar Corps Commander Lt Gen JS Sandhu and Victor Force Commander Maj Gen Ashok Narula, the Defence Minister laid wreaths at the memorial and interacted with the troops, veterans and their families. Amongst those present were several senior officers of the Kumaon Regiment such as Lt Gen Bobby Mathews and the Commanding Officer of 4 Kumaon Battalion which has 'Srinagar' as the unit Battle Honour.
The occasion bore the solemnity that it deserved and was also a confluence of the past and the present as the veterans and the serving soldiers interacted freely with the Defence Minister. In his interaction with the veterans, the Defence Minister listened to a number of issues raised by them and assured them of their expeditious addressal. In his address to the troops, the Defence Minister expressed his delight to be amidst them to mark this momentous occasion in history and reiterated the nation's pride and support for the entire soldier fraternity. The Defence Minister also paid tributes at the Somnath Memorial at Srinagar Airport.
Earlier in the day, the Defence Minister interacted with the soldiers in Badami Bagh where he complimented them for their devotion to duty and reassured that the whole nation recognised their commitment and sacrifice and stood resolute behind them.