Haifa Day: HCA can’t represent secular India

The IST News Desk

Soldiers march through Haifa after victory

Haifa day is celebrated on 23 September each year by the Governments of Israel and India. It is an occasion to pay tributes to a large number of Indian soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the battle of Haifa region during the World War-I and nearly 900 are cremated or buried in cemeteries across Israel.

The IS Times came across from multiple sources an invitation flyer of the year 2014 from the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies. Surprisingly, it did not have any Indian Government official representative’s name and instead had the names of Hindu Council of Australia (HCA), a religious group and OFBJP, a political group belonging to the ruling Indian political party. This invitation has been extended every year after 2014 albeit dropping OFBJP’S name.

The question by several callers to The IST is that when we have Indian government agencies in Australia, why a religious body or a political party of India is representing India. The appropriate representative of the Indian Government should be the Consulate or the High Commission of India as this is an event honouring Indian soldiers who represented India during the World War-I. If Government of India (GOI) reps are not available, then secular Indian organization(s) will be the next best co-organizer(s).  A religious body and/or a branch of political party should be avoided as then there would be demand coming from other religious bodies and branches of other political parties.

The event in India is celebrated by the Indian Army to commemorate the fallen Indian heroes. Battle of Haifa was fought towards the end of battle of Nablus during the last months of Sinai and Palestine campaign of the First World War. During the battle of Haifa the Indian 15th (Imperial service) Cavalry Brigade attacked the rearguard forces of the Ottoman Empire that resulted in the capture of Haifa and Acre.Captain Bahadur Aman Singh Jodha and Dafadar Jor Singh were awarded the Indian Order of Merit (IOM) and Captain Anop Singh and 2 Lt Sagat Singh were awarded the Military Cross (MC) as recognition for their bravery in this battle.

Major Thakur Dalpat Singh MC is known in the annals of history as the Hero of Haifa for his critical role in the battle for Haifa. The action of the Indian troops has been vividly recorded in the Official History of the War- Military operation Egypt and Palestine (volume 2): “No more remarkable cavalry action of its scale was fought in the whole course of the campaign. Machine gun bullets over and over again failed to stop the galloping horses even though many of them succumbed afterwards to their injuries”. This remains the only known incident in military history when a fortified town was captured by cavalry on the gallop. The 15 Imperial service comprised Cavalry regiments from princely states of Jodhpur, Mysore and Hyderabad.

It’s purely a military event and the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies should note that HCA is a religious body and does not represent India or Indian Army. It will be inappropriate for HCA to represent the Indian military or the Indian Government agencies.

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About Ashok Kumar

Ashok Kumar is an accomplished journalist with over 38 years of experience in the profession in various capacities. He was a sub-editor in Patriot and later Chief Sub-editor in The Hindustan Times, New Delhi. He has several published articles and reports in Patriot and HT. Published reports in The Blacktown Sun in Sydney. He had also been a tutor in journalism in the University of Western Sydney. He is currently Editor at The Indian Sub-continent Times, Sydney.

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