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When four heavily-armed terrorists attacked an Indian Army base camp on September 18th at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir, India the anger was felt not just in India but all over the globe. 18 Indian Army soldiers made supreme sacrifice on that fateful night. India House in association with India American Community organized a prayer meeting on September 25th to pay their respect to the martyred soldiers. Large numbers of Indian-Americans and representative from Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan congregated at India House holding flags of both India and the United States to mourn the deaths of soldiers.
A minute of silence was called for by Dr. Manish Rungta, President of India House to honor the memories of soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice. He reminded the audience that the reason civilians were leading normal, comfortable lives was that soldiers were guarding our borders and braving adverse conditions. The program began with soulful patriotic songs by Global Desis.
Vipin Kumar, Executive Director of India House, a retired Colonel of the Indian Army, asked everyone to expose the sympathisers of the terrorists and support Indian Army and the Government in their fight against the menace of terrorism. Highlighting soldiers’ sacrifice he quoted the words from the epitaph at Kohima War Cemetery in Nagaland, India, “When you go home, tell them of us and say, for their tomorrow we gave our today”. No eye was dry when pictures of the bodies of the dead soldiers coming home were shown on a big screen.
Retired Colonel Raj Bhalla, past president of ICC and Board of Director of India House recounted the challenges that he experienced in the 1971 India-Pakistan war. “We should never forget the unselfish sacrifice of our brave soldiers whether they are in India or in the US,” he asserted.
Retired Lieutenant Colonel Makhan Rattan Singh of Sikh Regiment, visiting from India narrated his active duty experiences and the glories of his Regiment. He stressed the urgency for immediate financial assistance and rehabilitation of bereaved families.
Achalesh Amar, a prominent community activist lauded the action of Congressman Ted Poe, the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, along with Congressman Dana Rohrabacher who has introduced a bill to designate Pakistan as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. Signatures are also accumulating for a petition created on the White House petition page for the same. He also noted that Texas Congressman Pete Olson has strongly condemned the Uri attack. Olson has issued a statement calling India a strong partner and ally, and said that every effort should be made to bring the perpetrators of the attack to justice.
Calls of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”, “Jai Hind”, “Vande Mataram” reverberated as everyone present acknowledged the immense debt to the motherland. The Consul-General of India Dr Anupam Ray assured everyone that India would prevail over the forces trying to disrupt peace and spread terror. He thanked the Indians of Houston for being so supportive of the Indian government.