PUNE: As the Bombay Sappers troops and their relatives witnessed a bicentenary parade on Saturday, they also saw another history in the making.
Rajeshwari Rane (84), the wife of late Major Rama Raghoba Rane, handed over his Param Vir Chakra, to the Army Chief General MM Naravane. The medal will now remain with the Bombay Sappers. Maj Rane was the first living recipient of the Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest military decoration.
“The Bombay Sappers became part of our family and I gave the medal which will inspire the future sappers,” she said.
Rane was born in 1918 in Chendia village of Karwar district (now Karnataka). At the age of 22, he joined the British Indian Army as a recruit (jawan) during World War II in 1940. For his bravery, he rose through the ranks and was commissioned as an officer.
In April 1948, during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947-48, Rane (then 2nd Lt) played a key role in the capture of Rajauri by Indian forces by being instrumental in clearing several roadblocks and minefields. His actions helped clear the way for advancing Indian tanks. He was awarded the Param Vir Chakra on April 8, 1948 for his gallantry. He retired as a Major from the Indian Army in 1968. During his 28 years’ service with the army, he was mentioned in despatches five times. He died in 1994 at the age of 76 in Pune. He was cremated on the premises of Bombay Engineer Group and Centre (BEG&C), Khadki, popularly known as Bombay Sappers, as per his wish.
A grand ‘Group Museum’ has been built at the Bombay Sappers, where various artefacts, medals, instruments, equipments, maps etc, depicting the 200 years history of the sappers, are kept.
Army doing its job to contain Coronavirus
The Indian Army has created a facility near Manesar in Haryana, for quarantine of approximately 300 Indian students arriving from Wuhan, China-- to combat the Coronavirus emergency.
The students will be monitored by a qualified team of doctors, to watch for any signs of infection.
General Naravane said, “Coronavirus epidemic has reached global proportion. We are seized of this major threat to the entire world. The nation has to put together whatever measures are required to make sure the epidemic is contained. To that end, we are also playing our role.”
He said while interacting with media persons after reviewing the parade. The Bombay Sappers completed 200 years of its raising in January this year. Gen Naravane is the honorary Colonel Commandant of the Bombay Sappers.
Speaking on the role of engineers, the army chief said warfare in the future will become more technical and network centric. “Not only engineers but all of us will have to keep adapting the changing nature of warfare and to that end, I believe engineers have a big role to play in the future. They will have to absorb new technologies and move with the times,” Gen Naravane added.
The army chief said that ‘capacity building’ is an ongoing process when asked about the role of engineers in the infrastructure-related works along the borders.
“We will continue to improve our capacity in the future. Whenever a construction work such as road, bridges or barracks is involved, engineers will have a major role to play,” added the chief of the army staff.
Earlier while addressing the troops, Gen Naravane, who is from Sikh Light Infantry (LI), said, “Sikh LI and Bombay Sappers have a very old relationship. Our jawans are selected from the same region. Our religious and cultural similarities bring us together. The jawans have fought many wars together. A company of Sikh LI for the parade shows our association.”