The Bharatiya Janata Party today clarified after reports of the eternal flame at Amar Jawan Jyoti being extinguished sparked immense furore on social media and off it. Military officials yesterday said that the flame of the Amar Jawan Jyoti will be merged with the flame at the National War Memorial, which is 400 metres away on the other side of India Gate.
The Amar Jawan Jyoti was constructed as a memorial for Indian soldiers who were killed in action in the 1971 Indo-Pak war after which Bangladesh was created. It was inaugurated by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi on January 26, 1972. Since then, the flame has been kept continuously burning.
The move to merge the flames was widely criticised by the opposition leaders. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi today said, “It is a matter of great sadness that the immortal flame that used to burn 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!”
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor asked whether the government will reinvent everything post-2014. “This government has no respect for democratic tradition & established convention, whether in parliament or out of it. The sanctity acquired after fifty years of the Amar Jawan Jyoti is being lightly snuffed out. So everything must be reinvented post-2014?” he said.
“The one who has ended the flame of crores of lives of youth/businessmen due to mad move like demonetisation, what he has to do with the “Amar Jawan Jyoti” that has been burning for 50 years at India Gate. These people have come to power to destroy the constitution and history. Now suffer – Bhakts,” said the RJD.
However, the government said that a lot of misinformation is being spread about the issue. “The flame of Amar Jawan Jyoti is not being extinguished. It is being merged with flame at National War Memorial. It was an odd thing to see that the flame at Amar Jawan Jyoti paid homage to martyrs of 1971 & other wars but none of their names is present there…The names inscribed on the India Gate are of only some martyrs who fought for the British in World War 1 and the Anglo-Afghan War and thus is a symbol of our colonial past,” said BJP leader Sambit Patra.
He added that the names of all Indian martyrs from all the wars, including 1971 and wars before & after it are housed at the National War Memorial.
“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 shraddhanjali to have the flame paying tribute to martyrs there. It is ironic that people who did not make a National War Memorial for 7 decades are now making a hue and cry when a permanent and fitting tribute is being made to our martyrs,” he said.
However, the government move found support from many other quarters. “MERGING OF ETERNAL FLAME. It gives me great satisfaction that the eternal flame of Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate is being merged with the National War Memorial(NWM). As someone who had steered the design selection & construction of NWM, I’d been of this view all along…India Gate is a memorial to the fallen heroes of the First World War. The Amar Jawan Jyoti was added in 1972 as we did not have another memorial. National War Memorial pays homage to the fallen Bravehearts after independence. All homage ceremonies had shifted to NWM already,” said Lt Gen (Retd) Satish Dua.
“Today is a great occasion, the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate is (being) merged with the National War Memorial. It’s a good decision. Time has come to shift the Amar Jawan Jyoti, to merge it with National War Memorial,” said Lt. Gen. Vinod Bhatia (Retd.), former DGMO of Indian Army.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on February 25, 2019, inaugurated the National War Memorial, where names of 25,942 soldiers have been inscribed in golden letters on granite tablets.