Gangtok, 29 May, 2012:
The Indian Army today at a ceremony held at Raj Bhavan made a presentation of two majestic 5.5 inch guns to the Raj Bhavan, Gangtok. These guns were manufactured in the United Kingdom and are of vintage 1941-45. They were used by more than a dozen countries including the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Canada, Iraq, India and Pakistan. These guns were used during World War-II, the Korean War and many other conflicts. Weighing over 6000 kgs, the gun fired 45 kg shell over 16 kms at the rate of 2 shells per minute.
These guns were released after a series of approvals at various levels, with final sanction being given by the Defence Minister, on behalf of the President of India. This was made possible, only due to the keen interest shown by the Governor of Sikkim, Balmiki Prasad Singh, the diligence of 17 Mountain Division and the support and guidance provided by GOC 33 Corps, Lt. General K. Surendranath, AVSM, SM, VSM.
The Governor, in his address, thanked the Defence Minister and the Army Chief for this gift of the two guns which would now form an integral part of the Raj Bhavan complex. He also dwelt on the history of civil-military relations in the State which has always been marked by cordiality and mutual trust. He commended the Army Commander and his jawans for the swift response in undertaking relief and rescue measures and other assistance to the State during the aftermath of 18th September, 2011 earthquake in the State.
The Governor took this opportunity to mention about two of his ideas which would go, a long way in cementing further the ties between the military and civil authorities in the State. First, he wanted the Eastern Air Command, which is located at Shillong should consider setting up a small base at Pakyong. This would help urgent requirements of the State in natural emergencies of this State which is located in a seismic belt. It may be recalled that an airport at Pakyong near Gangtok is under construction. Second, Sikkim is one of the few States left in the country where there is no Sainik school. He wanted that a Sainik school should be set up by the Ministry of Defence. Towards this, he also suggested that this could be an integral part of the Ranipool-Pakyong stretch where Naya Gangtok is going to emerge. He mentioned that his vision of Naya Gangtok is well known to the State Government and they have also taken some initial measures in this behalf.
The event further included unveiling of the presentation plates on the guns by the Governor. A scroll to commemorate the occasion was presented by the Army to the Governor.
The ceremony was also addressed by the GOC 33 Corps, Lt. General K. Surendranath, AVSM,SM,VSM. It was attended by a host of dignitaries, which included the Speaker of the Sikkim Legislative Assembly KT Gyaltsen, the Chief Justice of the Sikkim High Court Permod Kohli, members of the State Council of Ministers, MP- Lok Sabha, Chief Secretary, Additional Chief Secretary, DGP, Secretaries, besides others. The ceremony concluded, with tea at the Raj Bhavan.