Arjan Singh, Marshal of the Indian Air Force, who passed away on Saturday at the age of 98, will be laid to rest shortly. A state funeral is being accorded to the 1965 India-Pakistan war hero. The national flag was flying at half-mast in all government buildings in the national capital in his honour.
A gun carriage carried the mortal remains of Arjan Singh from the five-star rank Air Force officer’s residence to the Brar Square, where top military and civil dignitaries laid wreaths and paid tribute.
A ceremonial flypast of military aircraft was undertaken at the time of Arjan Singh’s funeral, along with a gun salute of 17 military tanks.
The cortege with Arjan Singh's body wrapped in the flag left his 7, Kautilya Marg residence at 8.30 a.m. It was decorated with marigold flowers. Singh's last journey of 8 km was accompanied with an Air Force band.
On Sunday, President Ram Nath Kovind led the nation in paying final tributes to Arjan Singh. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman laid a wreath on behalf of herself and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in Gujarat for the inauguration of Sardar Sarovar Dam. The Prime Minister, on his return from Gujarat, visited the war hero's resident and laid a wreath.
"My tributes to the brave soldier who had a fighter's qualities of valour and courtesy. His life was dedicated to Mother India," Modi wrote in Gujarati in his message in the condolence book at Singh's residence.
As it happened:
09:32 am: L K Advani lays wreath and pays tribute to Marshal of AIF Arjan Singh. Last rites ceremony to begin shortly.
09:30 am: Delhi LG Anil Baijal lays wreath and pays tribute to Marshal of IAF Arjan Singh
08:37 am: Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh was an icon for my generation: Union Minister Jitendra Singh
Army Chief General Bipin Rawat described the five-star ranking officer as "a legend, an icon, a pilot-chief who led from the front and a philanthropist to the core".
He recalled Singh's immense contribution as the Air Chief during the 1965 India-Pakistan war, the first major air battle of the IAF after independence.
Also Read: President Kovind, PM Modi pay final tributes to Marshal Arjan Singh as nation mourns loss of war hero
"It was to his credit that despite initial setbacks, we were able to 'overcome and overwhelm' the enemy and spoil their design to annex Jammu and Kashmir," Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa told reporters.
Arjan Singh was entrusted with the responsibility of leading the IAF when he was only 44 years old, a task he carried out with elan. He was the chief of the IAF when it found itself at the forefront of the 1965 conflict.
Singh, who had flown more than 60 different types of aircraft, had played a major role in transforming the IAF into one of the most potent air forces globally and the fourth biggest in the world.
Known as a man of few words, he was not only a fearless fighter pilot but had profound knowledge about air power which he applied in a wide spectrum of air operations. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian honour, in 1965.
An icon in the country's military history, Singh had led a fledgling IAF in the 1965 Indo-Pak war when he was just a 44-year-old. As Pakistan launched its Operation Grand Slam with an armoured thrust targeted at the vital town of Akhnoor in Jammu and Kashmir, he led the IAF through the war with courage, determination and professional skill.