New Delhi: In a special gesture, a retired Indian Army Brigadier was invited as a special guest by the Sri Lankan Army officers who received training at the Indian Military Academy (IMA) in Dehradun 30 years ago.

Brigadier Mandeep Singh Sandhu (Retd) was from the elite 10 Para Commando unit and had participated in the Indian Peacekeeping Force in Sri Lanka from 1987-1989 after which he got transferred to the IMA Dehradun as an instructor and was assigned to train the first batch of Sri Lankan Army officers.

"I had shed blood in Jaffna in Sri Lanka and at the IMA, I imparted training to the cadets based on my combat experience that I had gained during my stint there," Brigadier Sandhu told ANI.

He said the last interaction between him and his Sri Lankan cadets was in 1991 in the IMA where they had formed a special bond due to respect for each other's country.

In 2021, the Sri Lankan Army officers from the batch known as 'Intake 31' found Sandhu, who now lives in Canada, on Facebook and requested him to join them for a reunion.

At the invitation of their Defence Ministry, Sandhu visited Sri Lanka from March 2 to March 10 this year and visited the Sri Lankan Military Academy in Diyatalawa.

"Two days were spent with the Intake 31 officers at the SLMA as they wanted to honour their Guruji as per their military traditions as not only did I train them but I also shed blood in their country for ensuring peace there," Sandhu said.

The majority of the officers trained by Sandhu as an instructor at the IMA are still serving as senior officers.

During his 10-day stay in Sri Lanka, Sandhu visited several places including a war memorial in Jaffna which was built to honour elite 10 Para Commando unit troops who laid down their lives in the fight against Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) terrorists.

Sandhu, who plays the harmonica, said the Sri Lankan Army also fulfilled his wish to create a music video under the theme 'Harmonica Peace'.

As a special gesture, the retired Indian Army Special Forces officer was given a Sri Lankan Army Special Forces escort during his stay in Sri Lanka.