‘...You have my apology’: Smriti Irani’s heartfelt tribute to soldiers
Union minister Smriti Irani on Friday paid a heartfelt tribute to soldiers and their families while acknowledging that the sacrifices made by them are rarely acknowledged. She was speaking at a literature festival organised by the Army Wives Welfare Association.
“Today as a civilian, I am here to say sorry that we do not look at you till such time when a challenge comes upon the country. You not only have my apology but my gratitude on behalf of every Indian,” the women and child development minister said.
She made those comments while paying homage to the late chief of defence staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Raje Singh Rawat and 11 others who were killed in a helicopter crash near Coonoor on December 8.
The minister said soldiers and their families are remembered only when the country faces a challenge or when some tragedy strikes.
“We see you only when you step up to take the posthumous honour... We salute you and shower you with petals when a man in uniform comes back home in a box... We, as civilians, presume it’s a given that you’ve chosen to serve the armed forces... For that, you have my apology,” she said.
“While we stood to pay homage to Madhulika ji…when I saw her on the pyre with Gen Rawat…as a civilian, I thought we don’t spare all of you a thought…When I say all of you, it’s the wives and the children too, till such time a tragedy strikes. You are unacknowledged by us. And for that, you have my apology,” she said.
India’s first CDS General Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Raje Singh Rawat, and 11 others were killed on December 8 when an Indian Air Force (IAF) chopper crashed near Coonor in Tamil Nadu in an air tragedy that shocked the three services and came as a huge setback to the country’s biggest military reforms since Independence.
The only survivor of the crash, Group Captain Varun Singh, died on Wednesday.