Amar Jawan Jyoti merged with National War Memorial flame

The eternal flame of Amar Jawan Jyoti had been burning for 50 years, ever since it was built in 1972 to honour the Indian soldiers who martyred in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.

Amar Jawan Jyoti Flame Image
Amar Jawan Jyoti Flame Image

Amar Jawan Jyoti flame at India Gate was merged with the flame at the National War Memorial in a solemn ceremony on January 21, 2022. The historic ceremony was presided over by the Integrated Defence Staff chief Air Marshal Balabadhra Radha Krishna who will be merging the two flames.

The eternal flame of Amar Jawan Jyoti had been burning for 50 years, ever since it was built in 1972 to honour the Indian soldiers who martyred in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. The historic flame has been extinguished and a part of it was merged with the National War Memorial flame. 

Lt. Gen (Retd) PJS Pannu said, "This is a very good decision taken by the govt, shifting is not the question, the honour lies where the names of the soldiers are written. The National War Memorial is the only place the soldiers should be honoured."

Former Army Dy Chief (Retd) Lt Gen JBS Yadava, who is a 1971 war veteran also supported the merging of the two flames saying, "Amar Jawan Jyoti should be merged with National War Memorial. There should be only one war memorial in the country."

This came after the opposition parties hit out at the centre for attempting to rewrite history, saying that merging of Amar Jawan Jyoti with War Memorial Torch means erasing history. 

Amar Jawan Jyoti History

The India Gate was built by the British in memory of 84,000 Indian Army soldiers who martyred during World War-I and the Third Anglo-Afghan War (1919) between 1914-1921. The India Gate has names of the soldiers inscribed on its surface. 

The Amar Jawan Jyoti was included in the memorial structure in the 1970s after India's massive victory over Pakistan in 1971, which paved the way for the creation of Bangladesh. 

The Amar Jawan Jyoti flame was built under the arch of the India Gate by the Indira Gandhi government in 1972 to honour the 3,843 soldiers who had martyred in the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971.

The Amar Jawan Jyoti has an inverted bayonet and soldier's helmet with an eternal flame burning. The flame has been burning for 50 years, ever since it was established. 

All tri-service chiefs and visiting delegates used to pay their respect at the Amar Jawan Jyoti earlier and the Prime Minister of India would also pay tribute at the site on Republic Day.

National War Memorial

The National War Memorial was built in the India Gate complex by the Narendra Modi government and inaugurated in February 2019.

The National War Memorial was built in memory of all the Indian soldiers and unsung heroes who down their lives for India in different operations starting from the 1947-48 war with Pakistan.  

The names of 26,466 martyred soldiers are etched on the walls of the National War Memorial. The names of soldiers who lost their lives in counter-terrorist operations are also included.

After its inauguration, all military ceremonial events were shifted from Amar Jawan Jyoti to the National War Memorial.

However, it was decided then that Amar Jawan Jyoti would continue in its place even as a new eternal flame was lit at the national war memorial.

Why is Amar Jawan Jyoti flame being merged with the National War Memorial flame?

As per officials, there was no war memorial earlier to pay homage to all the military personnel who had laid down their lives for the country, which is why the eternal flame was built at India Gate. 

However, after the inauguration of the National War Memorial, all political and military leaders would lay wreaths at the new memorial site and not at India Gate. Hence, it was felt that both the flames should be merged so that they are at one place where all digniteries can pay their respect. 

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