Anzac Day: When Indian army veterans marched with pride

By Indira Laisram
Indian Armed Forces Veterans participate in the ANZAC day parade // Pic supplied

After two years of COVID-19 hiatus, the Indian Army contingent were back at the annual Anzac Day parade in Melbourne this year—with pride.

For Col (retd) Rajesh Kaswan, it was a memorable day for veterans of the Indian Army, 30 of whom gathered together to “pay homage to our fallen brethren”.

Kaswan was commissioned in the 6th Battalion of The Sikh Light Infantry in December 1990 and commanded the 1st Battalion The Sikh Light Infantry. He moved to Australia in 2011 after taking pre-mature retirement. For him, the Anzac Day parade is something he would not miss, it is honouring and commemorating the deaths of those at a vital point of history.

Indian Armed Forces Veterans // Pic supplied

“During the Battle of Gallipoli during the First World War, a large number of Indian soldiers had fought under the British flag. There are numerous instances of the bravery of Indian soldiers during the battle where a large percentage of soldiers laid down their lives too,” says Kaswan, who now works in logistics in Melbourne.

Every year, the Indian Armed Forces veterans participate in the Anzac Day parade not just to pay homage to their fallen brethren in the Battle of Gallipoli but also in battles prior and later.

All Allied Forces (of the First Word War) and those who are in Commonwealth countries are clubbed together as Commonwealth Veterans. But they all march under their respective country flag.

Pic supplied

This year, about 30 veterans and family members participated in the parade, proudly marching under the Tri-services Banner and the Indian Tricolour.  Some of the senior-most veterans included Brig TS Aulakh, Brig Nick Abbott, Col PS Brar, Col Vinay Singh, Col Ashok Tara VrC, Col Arun Chauhan, Col Amrit Rampal, Col Christopher, among others.

Participants also included women officers and others representing their deceased family members. “We also had four veterans marching for the first time,” says Kaswan. “All veterans share a special bond and we meet even otherwise as and when possible but the Anzac Day march provides us an opportunity to get together as a homogenous group under the Indian and Tri-services flag. Some visiting veterans from India also participated in this year’s parade as also in the previous years.”

For these veterans, wearing their medals and Regimental caps (not uniforms) is a moment of pride in a parade where a bond is forged with the hundreds and thousands of others in keeping alive the legacy of Gallipoli.

Kaswan also expresses his gratitude to the Consulate General of India, Melbourne, for  providing the venue for the veterans to converge after the march for a bite and some revelry—bringing a memorable end to a memorable day!

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