The government has decided to name 21 uninhabited islands in the Union territory of Andaman & Nicobar after recipients of Param Vir Chakra, the country's highest wartime gallantry award.
Out of the 21 islands, 16 are located in North and Middle Andaman district, while five islands are in South Andaman.
Speaking to PTI, Andaman and Nicobar Islands MP, Kuldeep Rai Sharma, welcomed the move taken by the Centre for naming the 21 islands after decorated soldiers in assistance with the Defence and the local administration.
”I am happy that the Centre has chosen 21 islands from Andaman to honour our brave soldiers. I would also like to request the administration to publish a small handbook for schoolchildren so that they can learn more about their supreme sacrifice for our motherland.
”Andaman and Nicobar Island is a tirtha sthan (pilgrimage) because of sacrifices made by the freedom fighters and now such honour for the Param Vir Chakra recipients is a matter of pride for us,” Sharma said.
The first uninhabited island numbered ’INAN370' in North and Middle Andaman was named after Major Somnath Sharma. Now ’INAN370' will be known as ’Somnath Dweep'. He was the first and the first recipient of the Param Vir Chakra. Sharma lost his life in the line of duty on November 3, 1947, while handling Pakistani infiltrators near Srinagar airport. He was posthumously awarded the highest military award for his gallantry and sacrifice during the Battle of Badgam.
Subedar and Honorary Captain Karam Singh who fought in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947, and was awarded the Param Vir Chakra for saving a forward post at Richmar Gali, south of Tithwal (a small border-village in Jammu and Kashmir) was also honoured after the Andaman administration and the Defence Ministry named another uninhabited island numbered ’INAN308' after him as ’Karam Singh Dweep'.
Similarly, Major Rama Raghoba Rane, Naik Jadunath Singh, Company Havildar Major Piru Singh Shekhawat, Captain Gurbachan Singh Salaria, Lieutenant Colonel Dhan Singh Thapa Magar, Subedar Joginder Singh Sahnan, Major Shaitan Singh Bhati, Company Quartermaster Havildar Abdul Hamid, Lieutenant Colonel Ardeshir Burzorji Tarapore, Lance Naik Albert Ekka, Colonel Hoshiar Singh Dahiya, Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal, Flying Officer Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon, Major Ramaswamy Parameswaran, Captain Bana Singh, Captain Vikram Batra, Captain Manoj Kumar Pandey and Subedar Major Sanjay Kumar -- all recipients of the Param Vir Chakra -- were honoured after the islands were named after them.
"Christening of the 21 uninhabited islands of Andaman and Nicobar archipelago with names of Param Vir Chakra heroes is a real tribute to the soldiers who had given their today for our tomorrow,” the MP said.
Some of the 21 islands fall under reserved forest while some have great potential for water sports, creek tourism and fishing.
The Andamans in general and the Cellular Jail in particular played a prominent part in the history of our freedom struggle. People who took part in various anti-British movements such as the 1857 revolt, the Wahabi Movement, and the Burmese Rebellion were deported to the Andamans where they lived there under barbaric conditions. Great stalwarts of the freedom struggle were confined in the solitary cells of the Cellular Jail.
”In today's fast-moving world and tough competitive day-to-day life, the youth hardly find time to remember our rich heritage and past. This initiative is a testimony to the sacrifices made by Indian Army personnel and youngsters will be aware of their heroic deeds. This becomes most crucial whilst the nation celebrates Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav (commemoration of 75 years of Indian Independence),” said Col Diptangshu Chaudhury, a war veteran of the Kargil conflict.