NEW DELHI: Ex-servicemen expressed mixed reactions on the Centre’s decision to extinguish and merge the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate with the eternal flame at the National War Memorial (NWM) here on Friday.
Former Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Twitter and requested him to rescind the decision.
“Sir, the eternal flame at India Gate is part of India’s psyche. You, I and our generation grew up saluting our brave jawans there,” he stated.
While National War Memorial is great, the memories of Amar Jawan Jyoti are indelible, Bahadur noted.
However, Former Lieutenant General Satish Dua expressed “great satisfaction” on merging the Amar Jawan Jyoti with the NWM’s eternal flame.
“As someone who had steered the design selection and construction of the NWM, I had been of this view all along that India Gate is a memorial to the fallen heroes of First World War,” Dua stated.
The Amar Jawan Jyoti was added in 1972 as we did not have another memorial, he mentioned.
The NWM pays homage to the soldiers who were killed in action after the country’s independence and all homage ceremonies have been shifted to the new memorial already, he noted.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on February 25, 2019, inaugurated the NWM, where names of 25,942 soldiers have been inscribed in golden letters on granite tablets.
Former Army Chief General Ved Malik also supported the Centre’s decision to merge the flames.
He said on Twitter that it is “a natural thing” to merge flames now as the NWM has been established and all ceremonials related to remembrance and honouring soldiers killed in action are being held there.
Former Colonel Rajendra Bhaduri said the Amar Jawan Jyoti is sacred and need not be extinguished.
“India Gate has names of Indian soldiers who died in wars. It is immaterial who constructed it,” Bhaduri said on Twitter.
The Amar Jawan Jyoti was constructed as a memorial for Indian soldiers who were killed in action in the 1971 Indo-Pak war, which India won, leading to the creation of Bangladesh.
It was inaugurated by the then prime minister, Indira Gandhi, on January 26, 1972.
Former Lieutenant General Kamal Jit Singh said on Friday that after the NWM’s inauguration, it is logical to unify both the flames.
“Rationalise multiple memorials in penny packets,” he said on Twitter.
Former Lieutenant Colonel Anil Duhoon said on Twitter that “If one can’t make it then break it” is the BJP’s mantra for new India.
He said the Amar Jawan Jyoti is too sacred to be touched or relocated.
“Why can’t they have two of them? Can’t understand their functioning,” Duhoon added.
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.