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Narendra Modi to inaugurate National War Memorial today: Commemorative structure around India Gate to honour fallen soldiers

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the National War Memorial near India Gate in New Delhi on Monday in a ceremonial function to commemorate its opening. The National War Memorial is a tribute to the soldiers who laid down their lives defending the nation post-independence during various wars and battles fought by the Indian Army.

The memorial pays tribute to those killed in the India-China War in 1962, India-Pak wars in 1947, 1965 and 1971, Indian Peace Keeping Force Operations in Sri Lanka and the Kargil conflict between India and Pakistan in 1999. It also commemorates those who died in the UN peacekeeping missions and during counter-insurgency operations.

It is made in the India Gate complex and spread over 40 acres in the heart of Delhi and was executed at a cost of Rs 176 crore. Its vision was laid down by Modi in 2014, who had promised the nation a state-of-the-art monument honouring the sacrifice and valour of the country's armed forces. Modi will address ex-servicemen on the occasion.

Meanwhile, the layout of the memorial comprises four concentric circles, namely, the 'Amar Chakra' or Circle of Immortality, the 'Veerta Chakra' or Circle of Bravery, the 'Tyag Chakra' or Circle of Sacrifice, and the 'Rakshak Chakra' or Circle of Protection. Chief of Integrated Defence Staff Lt Gen PS Rajeshwar said that the Amar Jawan Jyoti built in 1972 underneath the India Gate arch to commemorate soldiers martyred in the Indo-Pak War of 1971, will continue to be there.

"Wreath-laying ceremony on all designated days will be held at the National War Memorial built in memory of soldiers and unsung heroes who have laid down their lives defending the nation since Independence. A new flame will come up there. But the eternal flame at Amar Jawan Jyoti will stay. We have inherited that flame," he said. The Amar Jawan Jyoti is a memorial symbolised by an inverted bayonet and soldier's helmet over it with an eternal flame burning beside it. Tri-Services chiefs pay respect on occasions like Independence Day and Republic Day at the Amar Jawan Jyoti.

 Narendra Modi to inaugurate National War Memorial today: Commemorative structure around India Gate to honour fallen soldiers

The National War Memorial in Delhi. Image courtesy: Twitter @PIB_India

The outermost being the ‘Raksha Chakra’ is made by a row of 750 trees depicting soldiers guarding the nation; the ‘Tyag Chakra’ comprising 16 walls having granite tablets wherein the names of the soldiers are inscribed; the ‘Veerta Chakra’ consisting of six bronze murals showing famous battles of the three services; and the innermost one called the ‘Amar Chakra’ comprising of the obelisk.

Amar Jawan Jyoti to retain its significance

Deputy Chief of Integrated Defence Staff, Lt Gen PJS Pannu said, "Amar Jawan Jyoti is an inseparable part of our history. So much emotions are attached to it. And, it is located beneath the India Gate which itself is a war memorial, built during the British-era. So, if any old regiments wish to commemorate their important days and mark an event and pay respect, they can still do it there as well."

However, the central part of the memorial has been built in a sunken plot as the design had to respect the heritage look of the India Gate's Central Vista, officials said. The names of 25,942 battle casualties have been inscribed across 16 walls that consist of granite pieces bearing the name, rank and regiment of the fallen heroes, the officials said, adding that it was built between February 2018 and February 2019 in "record time".

The 42 m-high India Gate was built during the British Raj as the All India War Memorial Arch to honour the soldiers who died in the First World War (1914-1918) and the Third Anglo-Afghan War (1919). The landmark has the names of soldiers inscribed on its surface. Over 80,000 Indian laid their lives in those campaigns and India Gate bears names of 13,516 etched over its surface.

Names of fallen soldiers till 2017

Lt Gen Rajeshwar said that wreath-laying retreat ceremony involving lowering of flags will be held every evening at the memorial which will be open to the public. Asked if new names can be added in the memorial, he said, "Yes, there is a scope for that... We will hold a periodic review for that." He also informed that only names of those soldiers have been included in the new memorial, which were "frozen in time" before the construction work began in February 2018. "The cut-off date for including those names of fallen soldiers was till 2017 for the Army and early 2018 for the Air Force and Navy," Rajeshwar said. He said that a footfall of about 250 can be accommodated at a time so public entry will be regulated.

The complex includes a central obelisk, an eternal flame, and six bronze murals depicting famous battles fought by Indian Army, Air Force and Navy. Busts of the 21 awardees of Param Veer Chakra have been installed at Param Yoddha Sthal which includes three living awardees Sub Maj (Hony Capt) Bana Singh (Retd), Sub Major Yogendra Singh Yadav and Sub Sanjay Kumar.

During the inauguration, Modi will light the ‘eternal flame’— signifying the souls of soldiers who laid down their lives for the country — under a 15.5 metre tall obelisk at the memorial. The inauguration of the memorial will happen at about 5.30 pm. The ceremony at the memorial, which is located at India Gate C-Hexagon, will include dropping of flower petals by Indian Air Force helicopters over it. An air force ‘missing man’ formation of three fighter aircraft signifying the departure of a fallen comrade will also be displayed. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and chiefs of the army, air force and navy will be present for the event. Modi will also meet the next of kin of the Param Vir Chakra (the country’s highest bravery award) awardees.

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Updated Date: Feb 25, 2019 11:56:32 IST