If the Yoga Day extravaganza on Rajpath on June 21 gave a sense of the Narendra Modi government’s talent for the mass mobilisation of sentiment, it is going to put that expertise to use again soon for another spectacle – one that will be even more grand and will last for almost a month. The proposed golden jubilee commemoration of Indo-Pak war of 1965 at the end of August are aimed at extolling India’s victory over Pakistan and at appropriating the legacy of former Prime Minister Lal Bahdur Shastri from Congress.

“Commemoration and celebration of the golden jubilee of this great victory by Three Services will be a step in the right direction for conveying the sacrifices of the martyrs and actions of the gallant soldiers to the nation,” says the note prepared by the Ministry of Defence.

As per the plan, the Army, Navy and Air Force will organise a series of events between August 28 and September 26 on the lawns between Rajpath and Vigyan Bhawan.

Commemorative exhibition

The observances will begin with a wreath being laid at the Amar Jawan Jyoti on August 28, the day the Indian Army captured the Haji Pir Pass in the Kashmir region. The chief guest for the event, to be organised by the Navy, will be either President Pranab Mukherjee or Prime Minister Narendra Modi, depending on availability, says the Defence Ministry note.

On September 1-2, there will be a two-day Tri-Service Seminar at which the President is likely to be the chief guest.

From September 15 to 20, Indian Army will organise a commemorative exhibition on Rajpath. The exhibition will have four arenas – the gallantry arena, the sacrifice arena, the service display arena and the war trophy arena. The Army has also planned a detailed Festival of Victory.

All through the exhibition, the three wings of the defence forces will recreate some of the 1965 War’s major battles through tableaux, sand models and 3D imagery.

On September 20, the Army will organise a Commemorative Carnival” showcasing the three Services through tableaux, regimental and cultural events, martial arts and band displays. The same day, the India Gate lawns will witness a musical evening by the Air Force band, with special focus on patriotic songs, and a Victory Carnival on Rajpath.

Patriotic music

On September 22, the Prime Minister is scheduled to lay wreaths at the Amar Jawan Jyoti. This day will be celebrated as Veterans Facilitation Day by the Navy.

The celebration will come to a close with a massed band concert by Indian at Vijay Chowk on September 26 with the President as the chief guest.

This will be the first time that India will commemorate a war so elaborately. So far, Republic Day has been the only occasion on which the three Services come out to display their might. It would seem to be part of the BJP’s continued attempts to appropriate the memory of Congress leaders who are not part of the Nehru-Gandhi family. After Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, it now seems to be the turn of Lal Bahadur Shastri, who was the prime minister during the 1965 conflict.