The Congress on Friday accused the BJP government of “removing history” by extinguishing the Amar Jawan Jyoti at the India Gate here and merging it with the immortal flame at the National War Memorial.
Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi hit out, saying some people cannot understand patriotism and sacrifice, and added that the Congress will light the Amar Jawan Jyoti once again.
“It is a matter of great sadness that the immortal flame for our brave soldiers will be extinguished today. Some people cannot understand patriotism and sacrifice – never mind…We will once again light the ‘Amar Jawan Jyoti’ for our soldiers,” Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi.
Government sources maintained there is a lot of misinformation on the matter, and said the flame of the Amar Jawan Jyoti is not being extinguished, but is being merged with the flame at the National War Memorial. BJP leader Sambit Patra also echoed the government view in a tweet.
Congress leader Manish Tewari alleged that extinguishing the flame tantamounts to removing history. “Extinguishing Amar Jawan Jyoti tantamounts to extinguishing history. For it commentates sacrifice of those 3,483 brave soldiers who cleaved Pakistan into two parts and redrew map of South Asia post partition,” he said on Twitter.
Tewari said it is ironical that in the 50th year of liberation of Bangladesh Government seems to be working overtime to erase India’s finest hour in post independent history.
“Amar Jawan Jyoti is imbued in the national consciousness. A billion people have grown up venerating it. Why can’t India have two eternal flames? Amar Jawan Jyoti and National War Memorial. “Redeveloping the Central Vista was hubris enough but extinguishing the eternal flame at India Gate is nothing short of a crime. I am surprised that the nation is silent as a national icon would be snuffed out in the project to re-write history,” the former union minister said.
Government sources said it was an odd thing to see that the flame at Amar Jawan Jyoti paid homage to the martyrs of the 1971 and other wars but none of their names are present there.
The names inscribed on the India Gate are of only some martyrs who fought for the British in the World War 1 and the Anglo Afghan War and thus is a symbol of our colonial past, the government sources said. They said the names of all Indian martyrs from all the wars, including 1971 and wars before and after it are housed at the National War Memorial. Hence it is a true homage to have the flame paying tribute to martyrs there, they added.
Patra said, “It is ironic that people who did not make a National War Memorial for seven decades are now making a hue and cry when a permanent and fitting tribute is being made to our martyrs”.