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Indian Salesian College honours veterans served in the Bangladeshi liberation war

The Siliguri campus of the 83-year-old Salesian College of Sonada, North Bengal, honoured a group of war veterans who served during the historic liberation of Bangladesh half a century ago.

It was part traditional Salesian College event 'Exsurge 2021 (Arise and Take Flight)  to celebrate India's diversity on December 16-18.

86-year old Captain S.B Chhetri of the Gorkha Rifles was among the six veterans and a war widow at the function on December 18. In  1971, the soldiers were part of the decisive battle of Bogra to capture Dhaka, then the capital of East Pakistan.

Other eminent veterans present were Hawaldar Duryodhan Tamang (Army Corps of Engineers), Caption Hemant Subba, Subedar Bijai Kumar Subba Sena Medal, Havildar M Gautam Tamang, Subedar Tilak Ram Chhetri, and war widow Ishadevi Thapa representing late Sub S. B. Thapa.

Captian Chettri and three veterans were from the valorous 5/11 Gorkha Rifles regiment. The regiment consists of primarily the Kirant Tribes Rai, Limbu, Yakkha, Sunuwar of eastern Nepal, Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Dooars of West Bengal, Sikkim and other parts of Northeast India.

During the Indian intervention in East Pakistan of 1971, the 5th battalion was in action to fight against West Pakistan in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). Also present at the event were members of the Assam Rifles 101 regiment instrumental in the entry through Dowki.

"The National Service Scheme Unit II members of Salesian College Siliguri mooted the idea of paying homage to war veterans and marking the Vijay Diwas," said NSS Program Officer at Salesian College Siliguri Pinak Dey, assistant professor of education.

The veterans were offered a plaque of appreciation that read: "With our greatest appreciation, Salesian College Siliguri, NSS Unit 2, presents this memento to Salbari Purva Sainik Ardha Sainik Kalyan Samiti in recognition of their timeless service to the country on the occasion of Vijay Diwas commemorating the 50th year of India's glorious victory in the Indo Pak War of 1971."

President of the veteran's club Captain Hemant Subba regaled the audience with war day anecdotes and recalled Indo-Pak War legend Field Marshal Sam "Bahadur" Manekshaw and his appreciation of the Valour of the Gorkhas.

Manekshaw is credited with saying, "If a man says he is not afraid of death, he is either lying or a Gorkha."

Earlier, the Salesian College Siliguri concluded its two-day college event  Exsurge 2021 with a celebration of the diversity of India fashion show on December 17. As many as 30 students from 20 departments dressed in various ethnic outfits took the ramp to specially choreographed music.

"It is our way of affirming the diverse culture of India represented by the student community," said the mentor of the fashion show, Abhijit Chhetri, an alumnus of the college. The students could participate in several events like bands, dancing, painting, collage, sketching, doodling, poetry, stand-up comedy, photography and short film making. 

The principal of Salesian College, Salesian priest Prof George Thadathil, congratulated the students for their unique celebration of India's diversity. Prof Thadathil complimented the fashion choreographer Chhetri for spending time mentoring the youngsters.


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