By Bachaspatimayum Sunzu
IMPHAL, October 12: ‘No sensible being likes war because people get killed in wars. Sadly wars can never be stopped because of greedy politicians’ says Bernard Hyde, a former Royal British Air Force pilot who flew in supplies to the front-lines in Burma and Imphal during the second world war in 1945 during the Japanese invasion in India. The 86 year old, former flight lieutenant, who flew Dakota C-47s is amongst the 17 British nationals, comprising of two other war veterans who are on a Royal British Legion Remembrance tour of Nagaland & Manipur to pay their homage to the soldiers who died in the world war in Imphal between 1939 -1945.
Every year, British delegates, comprising of veterans, relatives and friends of those who died fighting for their country, come on remembrance tour and perform wreath laying ceremony in their honour. Soon after arrival, the 17 Britishers, visited the Imphal War Cemetery and Imphal Indian Cemetery in Imphal where 2431 graves are maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission based at London. Solemn prayer and wreath laying services were held at the two cemeteries described as the ‘islands of serenity amidst the teeming Imphal City.’
Jonathan Wort, the tour leader who is on his 4th remembrance trip to Imphal, said his team had landed in Kolkata from London, visited Kohima War Cemetery and flew in to Imphal today. He said ‘such tours are important to remember those who fought in the battle of Imphal and Kohima and to remember why the war was fought and in turn cherish the values of freedom and democracy.’
Besides the commonwealth war cemeteries, Govindaji temple, the Manipur Royal Palace, the Indian Peace Memorial at Maibam Lokpa-Ching dedicated to the Japanese soldiers, loktak lake, Ima market and Kangla Fort are some of sights in Manipur, the British nationals will be visit before leaving Manipur on 14th October for Delhi for a rendezvous with the Taj Mahal to complete their 12 day trip to India before heading back home to England.
Tour leader, Wort revealed that despite lifting of the protected-area-permit regime earlier imposed on foreign tourist visiting Nagaland & Manipur, things have not changes much for the foreign tourists who are hassled with frequent passport & Visa checks while in Nagaland and Manipur. He also regretted that a scheduled bus trip from Kohima to Imphal had to be dropped due to advice against making the trip for security reason coming for Indian military intelligence, denying the opportunity to experience the stunningly beautiful landscape of the countryside between Kohima to Imphal. The Royal British Legion Remembrance tour is coordinated by Royal British Legion and supported by Indian Army with its intelligence units providing inputs to ensure safety of the British nationals while in northeast.