14:41 GMT +320 September 2019
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    India Remembers Epic Battle With Afghanistan Ahead of its State Visit

    © AFP 2019 / PRAKASH SINGH
    Asia & Pacific
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    As India heads to the movies to watch a new film dedicated to a nearly-forgotten Afghan siege, Afghanistan's president is slated to travel to Delhi; he wants India to transfer some of its most lethal weapons, including Russian-made Mi-25 and Mi-35, to his country's fledgling national army.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — Despite its 69 years of independence, India's government and society are commemorating a battle which it fought in the year 1897 with Afghanistan, while the country was under British rule.

    Earlier this week, Manohar Parrikar, India’s Defense Minister, along with two of his fellow senior cabinet colleagues, attended a function dedicated to the premiere of a Hindi short film: ‘Battle of Saragarhi’.

    The little-known story of this battle has become talk of the twitterverse, and many are glorifying the 21 brave Sikh soldiers who defeated more than 10,000 tribes of Afghanistan while defending an army post which lies in modern-day Pakistan. The Sikh Soldiers were fighting for the British Raj, the UK's colonial government.

    ​The timing of this incident is bit surprising, as Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Wednesday. While economic issues will be discussed with Indian business leaders, the focus would be on a 'wish list' prepared by Afghanistan, which seeks help in the form of lethal military equipment from India.

    “The upcoming visit will provide an opportunity to continue the close and frequent consultations between the two friendly neighbors, including at the highest level,” reads a statement released by India’s Ministry of External Affairs.

    Afghanistan wants India to transfer some of its most lethal weapons, including Russian-made Mi-25 and Mi-35 to the fledgling Afghan National Army and also to assist in the restoration of its Soviet-era tank and ammunition factories. Apart from attack and utility helicopters, the request list also includes artillery, ammunition, tanks and trainers. Last year in December, India agreed to supply four Mi-24/25 attack helicopters to Afghanistan.


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