New Delhi, Sep 17 (IANS) President Ram Nath Kovind, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the three service chiefs on Sunday paid respects to Marshal of Air Force Arjan Singh, who died on Saturday.

Besides Kovind and Sitharaman, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat, Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa and Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba, besides others, laid wreaths on the mortal remains of the nation’s only Marshal of the Air Force.

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi was away in Gujarat where the Sardar Sarovar Dam was inaugurated, Sitharaman laid a wreath on behalf of the PM.

Family members, relatives and friends also gathered at his 7A, Kautilya Marg residence here to pay their last respects.

Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa said Arjan Singh was a philanthropist to the core and always led from the front and brought many innovative reforms to the Indian Air Force (IAF).

“In 2004, when he was promoted as the Marshal of IAF, he, along with his wife, sold off their property and started the Arjan Singh Trust at a value of Rs 2 crore, which has now grown to Rs 3.7 crore,” Dhanoa said.

“This was at a time when there were many airmen retiring from the service without their pensions being provided, which caused economic grief. They have disbursed Rs 2.7 crore of loans to air warriors so far,” Dhanoa said.

He also remembered Arjan Singh’s contribution in the 1965 war and to the IAF.

“The 1965 India-Pakistan war was the first major air battle for the country post-Independence. It was his dynamic leadership that helped us overcome our initial setbacks and overpower the enemy, who wanted to annex Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

Dhanoa added that Arjan Singh was overwhelmed at the recruitment of women as fighter pilots, and also met the three women who were recruited recently in this capacity.

Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba, meanwhile, said in a message: “The greatest air warrior, true leader and an icon for generations to come, Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh will be missed by the entire nation.”

Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh died on Saturday following cardiac arrest and he will be accorded a state funeral on Monday.

This is published unedited from the IANS feed.