A new war memorial is on the books to open in Meerut, but this one comes with a twist. The memorial&mdashreportedly at the Remount and Veterinary Corps (RVC) Centre and College, where the army breeds, rears, and trains dogs, mules and horses&mdashwill be a small-scale version of the National War Memorial in Delhi.
This memorial will be dedicated to service animals&mdashmostly dogs, but also mules and horses&mdashand will be the first animal war memorial in India. Construction work is awaiting approval from the Defence Ministry, but the preliminary design has been set. The commemorative structure will have names of over 300 dogs, their handlers and some horses and mules, along with their service numbers. 25 of these dogs were martyred at the time of counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir (in 2016), and the Northeast. It will also feature names of soldiers&mdashboth human and animal&mdashwho were killed in action during the Kargil war (1999) between India and Pakistan.
With over 1,000 dogs, 1,500 horses and 5,000 mules, the Indian army trains the animals for tasks like tracking, assault, infantry patrol, detecting mines and explosives, and search and rescue operations.
Animals have played a vital role in the country&rsquos defense for decades. War dog training programs were introduced in the late 1950s by the RVC in India. These dogs usually include labradors, german shepherds and belgian shepherds. Indigenous mudhol hounds and cocker spaniels have also been recently introduced as a trial for detecting explosives.