50 Year Of 1971 War — ‘We could not even light a candle’: Couple recalls entering new life amid war blackouts

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There were no fireworks or decorative lighting to celebrate Harjeet Kochhar’s wedding 50 years ago on December 5, 1971. All that the 72-year-old remembers is entering a pitch dark home with her husband during blackout hours, and then airstrikes beginning in Ambala city on December 6 night.

Her husband, Gurcharan Singh Kochar (78), recalled, “Our marriage was fixed for December 5. I used to live in Ambala at that time. The baraat of about 30 persons started for Kanpur on December 3 morning. Our train reached late in Kanpur and on December 4, the baraat reception function was advanced to afternoon as blackout was to start in the evening. On December 5, we got married in the morning and were back in Ambala on December 6 evening. The same night air strikes happened in Ambala.”

He added, “It was hard for us to reach our home amid blackout and instead of celebrations. We were not even able to light a candle. The war continued for another few days and Vijay Divas was observed on December 16. Those were the hard times, but we salute our soldiers who came out victorious.”

Gurcharan retired from Haryana Agriculture Department in 2001 and his wife, Harjeet, retired as a teacher from KV, Ambala, in 2009. Later, they moved to Ludhiana to be with their son Dr Avneet Singh Kochhar who is working in the department of community medicine ins CMCH.  Harjeet said, “As the country is celebrating 50 years of victory in the 1971 war, we as commoners also remember those days vividly. As I was a new bride in the house, so we waited for celebrations and Vijay Diwas was also a big day for us.”

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