The Amar Jawan Jyoti flame at India Gate will be extinguished after 50 years and merged with the flame at the National War Memorial in Delhi on Friday, January 21, military officials said. 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.
Military officials said on Thursday, January 20, that the flame of the Amar Jawan Jyoti will be extinguished on Friday afternoon and merged with the flame at the National War Memorial, which is just 400 metres away on the other side of India Gate.
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. It is a memorial symbolised by an inverted bayonet and soldier's helmet over it with an eternal flame burning beside it.. The move comes ahead of India's 75th Republic Day.
The existence of Amar Jawan Jyoti was questioned two years ago after the National War Memorial came into being and the nation got a new eternal flame there. Back then, the Indian Army had stated that Amar Jawan Jyoti will continue as it is an "inseparable" part of the country's history.
Earlier, tri-services chiefs and visiting delegates used to pay respect at the Amar Jawan Jyoti. Even on all important days like Republic Day and Independence Day, tri services chiefs used to pay respect at Amar Jawan Jyoti.
But with the new eternal flame at the National War Memorial and wreath-laying ceremony on all designated days being carried out at the memorial, the force will now merge the Amar Jawan Jyoti with the other.
The National War Memorial was built in memory of all soldiers and unsung heroes who laid down their lives defending the nation since Independence. It is spread over 40 acres in the India Gate complex behind the canopy, and is dedicated to soldiers killed during the Indo-China War in 1962, Indo-Pak Wars in 1947, 1965 and 1971, Indian Peace Keeping Force Operations in Sri Lanka and in the Kargil Conflict of 1999, besides those killed in the UN peacekeeping missions.
The Congress on Friday, January 21, accused the BJP government of "removing history". Former Congress leader 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 told PTI 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, reported PTI.