Friday, 20 December 2013

WAR CEMETERIES - mute reminders of courage and sacrifice!

Who would have thought the effects of the II World War could have been felt in this far flung north-eastern state of Assam, in the Indian sub-continent? 
But facts are facts and one cannot change the course of history. 
The Burma Campaign of the Allied forces against the advancing Japanese army and the ensuing battles that followed, ensured that this region be scripted in history as an unwitting participant in the ravages of war.
So, what does one show to prove one's participation in conflicts and war? Yes, nothing more than graves of boys and young men who gave their lives for a cause.
The records available with the Regional Manager (NE - India) of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, states that there are nine war cemeteries in India, out of which five of these are in the north-east of the country! This certainly tells a story, doesn't it?
War Cemeteries in Assam: -
  • Digboi War Cemetery: - Situated quite close to the Burmese border, the town of Digboi was on the communication lines of the Allied advances with a military hospital for treating war casualties. The war cemetery which is about 1.5 km. towards the east of the present town, has around 200 graves of soldiers who lost their lives during the second world war. Every second Saturday in November, a prayer ceremony is held in this cemetery, to pay homage to the brave souls who were laid to rest here. Verses from the Bible, Gurugranth Sahib, Geeta and the Koran are read to commemorate the courage of these victims of war.
  • Guwahati War Cemetery: - This cemetery has 521 graves. It is the only war cemetery, among the other nine in India, that has the graves of 11 Japanese and 24 Chinese soldiers. There was an attempt by a high level Japanese delegation to exhume the graves of the Japanese soldiers and take back the remains to their native country, but no definite results could be ascertained.
There are two other places in the north-east of India that have cemeteries of the second world war. One is in Kohima, the capital city of the state of Nagaland, with more than 1400 graves, and two in Imphal, the capital city of the state of Manipur, with more than 1600 graves.

The one common feature unifying all these war cemeteries, is the immaculate nature with which these resting grounds of the brave souls of yester-years are maintained! 

Shiny brass plaques tell a story of the lost life! Boys and young men are laid to rest in orderly manner amongst beautifully manicured lawns and flowers. It is a place to come and pay obeisance. As a quote in one of the cemeteries rightly sums up everything - "When you go home tell them about us - that for your tomorrow, we gave our today"!

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