PM Modi inaugurates National War Memorial in New Delhi

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Spread over an area of approximately 40 acres, the memorial comprises four concentric circles, namely- the ‘Amar Chakra, the Veerta Chakra, the ‘Tyag Chakra’ and the ‘Rakshak Chakra’ with names of 25,942 soldiers inscribed in golden letters on granite tablets

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday inaugurated the country’s National War Memorial (NWM) adjoining the iconic India Gate complex in the heart of the capital, nearly 60 years after it was mooted to honour the fallen soldiers after Independence.

Spread over an area of approximately 40 acres, the memorial comprises four concentric circles, namely- the ‘Amar Chakra, the Veerta Chakra, the ‘Tyag Chakra’ and the ‘Rakshak Chakra’ with names of 25,942 soldiers inscribed in golden letters on granite tablets.

It also includes a central obelisk, an eternal flame and six bronze murals depicting famous battles fought by the Indian Army, Air Force and Navy in a covered gallery (Veerta Chakra).

The PM dedicated the memorial, built at a cost of ₹ 176 crore, by lighting the flame positioned at the bottom of the stone-made obelisk. Rose petals were showered by IAF helicopters and a fly-past in ‘Missing Man’ formation was also part of the event.

‘One more pilgrimage place for we Indians’

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the county now has “one more pilgrimage place” where citizens can come to pay homage to our brave soldiers.

“It has been wonderfully designed such that it homogenously merges with the surrounding, giving an impression that it existed ever since long. We can proudly say there is one more pilgrimage place for we Indians. We expect every citizen will pay a visit to this memorial to pay homage to our brave soldiers,” she said.

“After World War I and the conflict in Afghanistan-Waziristan, a memorial was built in the pre-Independence era in the form of the India Gate. In 1972, the Amar Jwan Jyoti was built underneath it to commemorate the Indo-Pak conflict of 1971,” Ms. Sitharaman said.

Post-Independence, more than 25,000 soldiers have laid their lives in our national interest, defending the sovereignty and integrity of the nation, she said.

“There was always an inexorable requirement of having our own war memorial to pay tribute to our soldiers killed in 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 in 1999,” she said.

It also commemorates the soldiers who participated and made supreme sacrifice in the UN Peace Keeping Missions, during Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Operations, counter-insurgency operations and Low Intensity Capital Operation (LICO), the minister said.

During the Joint Session of Parliament in 2014, the President had made a commitment of building a national war memorial to honour the gallantry of the soldiers.

“Today, our government under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi has fulfilled that commitment,” she said.

Addressing the ex-servicemen she said, “We have fulfilled some of the expectations of our veterans and are committed to many more in coming years.”

“What we need today is your trust in us, trust in the Prime Minister. And welfare of veterans is always on top of our priority,” she said.

A sum of Rs 10,795.4 crore has been disbursed to family pensioners as arrears pension on account of the implementation of the OROP, she said.

As many as 70,000 wards of ex-servicemen have benefited from the PM scholarship scheme and Rs 150 crore has been disbursed since 2014-15, she added.

The origins

The sanction for the project was issued on December 18, 2015 and actual work on it started in February 2018.

In the complex, 16 walls have been constructed in the Tyag Chakra for paying homage to the 25,942 battle casualties and their names have been inscribed on granite tablets arranged in a circular pattern, symbolizing the ancient Indian war formation ‘Chakravyuh’

The outermost circle – the Rakshak Chakra comprises of rows of more than 600 trees with each tree representing many soldiers who guard the territorial integrity of the nation round the clock.

The memorial complex also comprises graphic panels and stone murals. Busts of the 21 awardees of Param Veer Chakra have been installed at Param Yoddha Sthal which includes three living awardees Sub Maj (Hony Capt) Bana Singh (Retd), Sub Major Yogendra Singh Yadav and Sub Sanjay Kumar.

Officials said the Amar Jawan Jyoti, built in 1972 underneath the India Gate arch in memory of the fallen soldiers of the 1971 war, will remain there but the NWM will be the place to pay tributes to soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the country.

Six murals, made by noted sculptor Ram Sutar, depicting famous battles fought by the Army, Air Force and Navy have been put up in a gallery in the Veerta Chakra zone, he added.

The India Gate itself is a war memorial built during the British Raj as the All India War Memorial Arch to honour the soldiers who died in the First World War (1914-1918) and the Third Anglo-Afghan War (1919). The landmark has the names of soldiers inscribed on its surface.

The proposal to set up a a National War Memorial had been under consideration since early 1970s. A Group of Ministers (GoM) in August 2012 recommended “C” Hexagon of India Gate as the appropriate location for the memorial.

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