From 1962 China war hero Major Shaitan Singh to Captain Vikram Batra of Kargil fame, the list of 21 unmanned Andaman and Nicobar islands is a tribute to battle legends and their exemplary courage. The Central government decided to name the islands after Param Vik Chakra awardees who hailed from different parts of the country, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who attended the ceremony virtually, said all of them had an “India First” resolve.

“From Major Somnath Sharma, Piru Singh, and Major Shaitan Singh to Captain Manoj Pandey, Subedar Joginder Singh, and Lance Naik Albert Ekka, from Veer Abdul Hameed and Major Ramaswamy Parameswaran to all 21 Paramveers, everyone had only one resolve: Nation First! India First! This resolution has now become immortal in the name of these islands. A hill in Andaman is also being dedicated in the name of Captain Vikram Batra from the Kargil War,” Modi said on Monday.

The government chose to do it on Parakram Diwas, celebrated to mark the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. The PM also unveiled a model of the National Memorial dedicated to Netaji, which is to be built on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Dweep (an island).

“When history is being made, the future generations not only remember, assess, and evaluate it, but also find constant inspiration from it,” he said. Looking back into the history of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Modi informed the Tricolour was hoisted for the first time here and the first independent government of India was formed.

The PM lamented that the identity of Andaman was associated with the symbols of slavery instead of the memories of the freedom struggle. “Even the names of our islands had the imprint of slavery,” he stressed. Recalling a visit to Port Blair four-five years ago to rename the three main islands, he informed, “Today Ross Island has become Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Island, Havelock and Neil Islands have become Swaraj and Shaheed Islands.” He noted that the names Swaraj and Shaheed were given by Netaji himself, but no importance was given to them even after independence.