The Indian Army on Thursday installed a 100-foot-tall national flag in the hilly Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir with a senior officer terming the endeavour a befitting tribute to the countless soldiers who laid down their lives for the nation.
This was the second such high-mast flag hoisted by the Army in the Chenab valley region, which was once a hotbed of terrorism before it was completely cleared over a decade ago.
In July last year, a 100-foot-high national flag was installed in the nearby Kishtwar town.
General Officer Commanding of the Army's Delta Force Maj Gen Ajay Kumar unfurled the tallest flagpole at the Doda sports stadium along with the commander, Sector 9, Rashtriya Rifles, Brig Samir K Palande, Doda Deputy Commissioner Vishesh Paul Mahajan and Senior Superintendent of Police Abdul Qayoom.
Maj Gen Kumar honoured the family of soldiers who had died in the service of the nation and also felicitated members of the civil society who have contributed immensely towards nation-building.
"The tallest flag is a tribute to the countless soldiers of the Chenab valley region who have made the ultimate sacrifice while safeguarding the unity and integrity of the nation," the GOC said.
He said the 100-foot-high national flag, the first of its kind in Doda, was not only a proud moment for the Army but also for all the residents of the hilly district.
"The national flag, which can be seen from a long distance, will make every citizen feel pride for the country," Maj Gen Kumar said.
Set amid the beautiful and salubrious hills of Doda, the flag adds to the attraction of the location.
"The feeling of the iconic national flag which is standing tall and beautiful cannot be expressed in words but surely this is making every citizen of India swelling with pride. This will surely go a long way in inculcating the sense of belonging for the country among the residents of Doda, especially the younger generation," Mr Mahajan added.
Locals especially students and 'Veer Naris' (war widows) who had gathered in large numbers to witness the event expressed gratitude to the Army.
"By inviting us to this event, the Army has made us feel proud of the achievements of my martyred husband. This is the beauty of our Army that they never forget the sacrifices of the soldiers and their families," said Chinta Devi, wife of one of the most decorated soldiers in the history of the Indian Army Naib Subedar Chunni Lal.
Naib Subedar Lal, who was awarded Ashok Chakra (posthumously), Vir Chakra, and Sena Medal, sacrificed his life in the service of the nation fighting a group of terrorists trying to sneak through the Line of Control (LoC) in Kupwara district of north Kashmir on June 24, 2007.
Simran Sharma (14), a student from Doda, said she is fortunate to be part of this historic moment.
"I am also grateful to the Army for letting me perform on this historic occasion. This proud feeling will remain with me for the rest of my life," the girl, who was part of the troupe which performed at the event, said.
Tahir Farooq, a student of Government Degree College, Doda, said he is feeling proud of the installation of the jumbo flag as he reminds the time when there were no national flags seen anywhere due to terrorism.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)