Gun salute, funeral today

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The funeral procession of the sole Marshal of the Indian Air Force, Arjan Singh, is now underway in the national capital on Monday.

In 1965, when Pakistan had launched its Operation Grand Slam with an armored thrust targeted at the vital town of Akhnoor, Singh led the Indian Air Force through the war with courage, determination and professional skill.

Amitabh, who played an Army officer in films like "Major Saab" and "Lakshya", described Arjan Singh as "iconic, valiant and most decorated son of India". West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee condoled the demise of Arjan Singh, in a tweet. Singh's last journey of 8 km was accompanied with an Air Force band.

In addition to serving officers, scores of retired Air Force personnel had turned up to pay their last respects to the deceased Marshal.

"The last rites will be performed at Brar Square, Delhi, at 10 a.m. on September 18".

Earlier, the mortal remains of the Marshal was taken out in a gun carriage from his 7, Kautilya Marg residence.

A flypast by India's most potent fighter jet Su-30 and Mi-17 V5 helicopters was carried out and a 17-gun salute by the ceremonial battery honoured the Marshal who died on Saturday after a massive cardiac arrest.

President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Singh's residence on Sunday and paid glowing tributes to the war hero. Comparisons are never pleasant and he would have been somewhat uncomfortable with the palpable contrast between the way the government has acknowledged his contribution to the nation, and the tepid response of the government of the day when Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw passed away in 2008.

Known as a man of few words, Singh had profound knowledge of air power and applied it in a wide spectrum of areas, said Air Vice Marshal (Retd.) Kapil Kak, aformer vice chief of IAF. He became the Chief of Air Staff in 1964 at the age of only 45.

After his retirement, he served as India's envoy to Switzerland and Kenya. It was also symbolic of how India and its Air Force will miss this warrior of the skies forever. He was awarded Padma Vibhushan - second highest civilian award in the country - for his services in the war. He concurrently held the position of Ambassador to the Vatican. He was made the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi for one year between December 1989 and December 1990.

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