By Gautam Datt
New Delhi, March 14 (IANS) It took several decades for the National War Memorial to come up near India Gate in the heart of New Delhi and now families of Indians who took part in the Korean War in the early 1950s are racing against time to build a monument in the honour of their sacrifices.
There is a bit of urgency as only five of the officers from that era (all in their 90s) are alive.
The proposal for building the war memorial for the Korean War in New Delhi has been in the pipeline and a piece of land in Chanakya Puri’s Kautilya Marg has already been identified.
However, after an initial push, the project is yet to take off.
Although India was one of the 21 countries who had taken part in the Korean War, it was among the five nations which had sent an only non-combatant force, a brigade of medical troops.
There are memorials of the Korean War in each of the other 20 countries.
India has a Korean War Veteran Association with over 200 members. The association has the plan for the memorial ready with contributions from the Korean companies in India.
Ajay Sur, a dentist, is one the members who is keenly following the project. His father Captain Balraj Sur from 56 Para Field Ambulance was one of the 27 officers, who were sent to the Korean War to take care of the wounded and the Prisoners of War (POWs).
“It has been 70 years and it is time we recognise the contribution of these soldiers,” Sur told IANS.
The last of the surviving five from the Korean War era are Lieutenant Generals M.L. Tuli and Mathew Thomas, Major General S.K. Sharma, Brigadier Kapoor Singh Ahlawat (President of the Korean War Veteran Association) and Lieutenant Colonel Angad Singh.
Minister-Counsellor for Political Affairs in the Korean Embassy Yoo Chang-ho told IANS that it was an extremely emotional issue for Korea as the Indian paramedics had treated the wounded.
He said at least those who are still alive will be able to see the memorial.
The Indian government had come forward offering to build the memorial but the proposal has not moved forward from there.
With the announcement of elections, there might be some more delay but the families are hoping to get the memorial by 2019 end.
(Gautam Datt can be contacted at [email protected])