A war memorial has been planned to be built in Meerut which would feature a heroine who lost her life in a counter-insurgency operation in Kashmir, 2016. Even a few of those who have acquitted themselves creditably in the Kargil War in 1999 would also be featured.
But what would make this memorial unique is because it would devote to the service of animals which mostly include dogs, horses and mules. It would be India’s first animal war memorial that would recognize the bravery on the battlefield, devotion and loyalty to duty and outstanding contributions of animals alongside with soldiers.
The memorial is planned to be built at the Remount and Veterinary Corps(RVC) Centre and College in Meerut which is a centre for the army to breed, rear and train dogs, mules and horses. One of the officers said that an approval from the defence ministry is expected to come soon for the construction of the war memorial to commemorate the sacrifice, exceptional gallantry and distinguished service of RVC animals and men.
The officer further says that the memorial will be similar to the National War Memorial in Delhi but in a smaller scale. The preliminary design has been frozen and land for the same has been chosen in Meerut. The service numbers and names of more than 300 dogs, 350 handlers and few mules and horses would be inscribed on granite tablets at the memorial. Among these dogs around 25 were killed in action during counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and North East.
Another officer said that many western nations have memorials for animals and this memorial would be a perfect reminder and a mark of respect and gratitude towards the RVC soldiers both men and animals who have laid their lives down for the country.
Army dogs are trained for a variety of roles such as mines and explosive detection, tracking, assault, infantry patrol and search and rescue missions. RVC has been a pioneer for war dog training in India since the late 1950s. Labradors, German Shepherds and Malinois(Belgian Shepherds) are a big part of the army canine workforce. The RVC even introduced Mudhol Hounds and Cocker Spaniels on a trial basis.
On the other hand, army animal transport units are equipped with mules. They are sometimes responsible for carrying support to remotest outposts located up to 19,000 feet. Mules played an important role during the 1999 Kargil war with Pakistan.