Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw was a legend and the government will not forget his leadership and contribution to protect the sovereignty and prestige of the country, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said at the 98th birth anniversary of the Field Marshal here on Tuesday.

Army Chief General V.K. Singh joined the Defence Minister in paying floral tributes to the Field Marshal at the Parsi Zoroastrian Cemetery where he was laid to rest on June 28, 2008, but both of them steered clear of making any statement to presspersons on the controversy over the Tatra trucks.

Mum is the word

When The Hindu asked the Minister whether a joint statement could be expected, Mr. Antony only smiled and declined to respond.

On whether Manekshaw would be conferred Bharat Ratna, Mr. Antony said he was not the authority to take a decision on that. In the visitors' book, Mr. Antony wrote: “I salute the respectful memory of Field Marshal Manekshaw”.

General Singh wrote: “A homage to a great soldier of the country. A great man who led the nation and its Army to a great victory. We salute the Field Marshal.”

Apart from the Defence Minister and the Army Chief, those who placed wreaths at the cemetery were Manekshaw's daughters Sherry Batliwala and Maja Daruwala, Lieutenant General Bikram Singh, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Eastern Command and Army Chief Designate, Lieutenant General S.K. Singh, Vice Chief of Army Staff and Colonel of the 8th Gorkha Rifles, which the Field Marshal was part of, Lieutenant General A.K. Singh, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Command and the Nilgiris Collector Archana Patnaik.

‘An honour for family'

Ms. Daruwala said that it was an honour for the family to be remembered in such a manner. The people who should be here were here. Many of those present recalled their association with the Field Marshal. Some of them adverted to the different ways in which he had made his presence felt in Coonoor where he had settled after retirement. They also remembered his funeral ceremony at Coonoor at which the government was represented only by the Union Minister of State for Defence, Pallam Raju.

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