"Merging, Not Extinguishing" Flame At India Gate For Soldiers: Centre

The eternal flame, which has been burning at India Gate for 50 years, will be merged with the torch at War Memorial in a ceremony today afternoon.

The eternal flame, Amar Jawan Jyoti, has been burning at India Gate for 50 years.

New Delhi:

The Amar Jawan Jyoti or the "eternal flame" for soldiers at India Gate will be put out after 50 years and merged with the torch at the National War Memorial in a ceremony today. A part of the flame will be carried to the war memorial this afternoon.

Amid sharp criticism of the move, the government said a "lot of misinformation" was circulating.

"The flame of the Amar Jawan Jyoti is not being extinguished. It is being merged with the flame at the National War Memorial. 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," said government sources.

The India Gate was built by the British in the memory of soldiers of the British Indian Army who died in World War-I. The Amar Jawan Jyoti was placed under the India Gate in 1971, when the Indira Gandhi-led Congress government was in power.

The names inscribed on the India Gate are those who fought for for the British in the World War-I and Anglo Afghan War, said the government, describing it as "a symbol of our colonial past".

The sources argued that the names of Indian soldiers who died in wars after Independence, including the 1971 war, are engraved at the National War Memorial. "It is a true shraddhanjali (tribute) to have the flame paying tribute to martyrs there," they said.

Targeting Opposition leaders who have slammed the government on the move, the government sources said 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".

The sources added that the reason for its move was increasing difficulty in maintaining two flames.

There has been a deluge of posts on social media and statements from opposition parties, also a section of retired veterans, over the massive change in a decades-old tradition.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said "some people cannot understand patriotism and sacrifice".

Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi said she is "sad and anguished" and asked why both flames cannot remain.

Such moves are "neither good politics nor good optics", said Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Manoj Kumar Jha.

The National War Memorial, where the flame will be merged, spans over 40 acres. It was built in 2019 at a cost of Rs 176 crore and inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

At the War Memorial, the flame is positioned below the central obelisk. There are four concentric circles - the "Amar Chakra", "Veerta Chakra", "Tyag Chakra" and the "Rakshak Chakra", where the names of 25,942 soldiers are inscribed on granite tablets in golden letters.

The memorial also includes six bronze murals depicting the famous battles fought by the Indian Army, Air Force and the Navy in a covered gallery in the Veerta Chakra.

.