Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday inaugurated the National War Memorial near India Gate in New Delhi by lighting the ‘eternal flame’ in the presence of veterans and serving armed forces personnel. The prime minister hailed the veterans saying, “This is new India which is a nation of new policies and new traditions, is moving forward making its mark globally, and the contribution of our armed forces personnel is immense.”
Inaugurating the memorial, PM Modi also criticised the Congress over its Rafale stand. “The scandals of Bofors to the tainted helicopter deal reaching to one family says a lot, now the same people are desperately trying that the Rafale does not fly in the Indian skies,” he said. Follow HIGHLIGHTS HERE
All you need to know about National War Memorial
The newly inaugurated war memorial is located just east of Amar Jawan Jyoti at the India Gate, where the eternal flame was lit in the honour of fallen soldiers. Initially conceptualised in 1961, the memorial comes to life after decades of being under process. The memorial has names of 25,942 soldiers who died in multiple conflicts after Independence engraved in gold on granite tablets, and placed on 16 ‘honour walls’ in two concentric circles named ‘Tyag Chakra’. At the centre of the circles is a 15.5-metre tall granite obelisk, where the PM lit the ‘Eternal Flame’.
The memorial has been moulded as a “national centre for civilian engagement and reverence for the forces”. Over 250 people will be able to visit it at a time. “The aim is to highlight the sacrifices made by soldiers after Independence and instil nationalistic pride and patriotism,” said Chief of Integrated Defence Staff Lt-General P S Rajeshwar.
The project was approved by the Cabinet in 2015, and its total cost has been pegged at Rs 176 crore. Objections by the Delhi Urban Arts Commission and the heritage conservation committee on the incongruity of the design to the surroundings and environmental restrictions had led to the delay.
PM targets Congress at National War Memorial
“The demand for a national war memorial has been raised for decades, there were efforts in the last decade or two but nothing concrete took place. But with your blessings, we began the process of its construction in 2014 and we are inaugurating it within the set deadline,” the prime minister told the gathering. Modi also praised his government for introducing the One Rank One Pension (OROP) for defence personnel, and criticised the Congress-led UPA government. He added that Rs 35,000 crore has been distributed under OROP by his government in the last four years.
“In 2009, Forces demanded 1,86,000 bullet-proof jackets, but faced enemies without them. Our government in 4.5 years bought over 2,30,000 bullet-proof jackets,” Modi said.
The prime minister also hailed the decision of the India Air Force to induct women in combat flying as pilots for fighter aircrafts. Attacking the Congress, Modi said that they have been ignorant of the armed forces while raking up the Bofors scandal. He added that for some people “their family (Gandhi family) is more important than their country.” “Today the nation is getting the national war memorial, but a similar problem was faced by the national police memorial which was also fulfilled by our government,” Modi said.
“These people had made the forces a source of their income. Maybe they could not get anything by remembering the martyrs, therefore they decided to forget them. The scandals of Bofors to the tainted helicopter deal reaching to one family says a lot, now the same people are desperately trying that the Rafale does not fly in the Indian skies. But in the next few months, when the Rafale flies in India their conspiracies will be brought down,” Modi said.
Rahul Gandhi slams PM Modi over status of Martyrs for CRPF personnel
Congress President Rahul Gandhi trained his guns at the prime minister, saying that his ego is not allowing him to meet his demand for granting “shaheed” (martyr) status to personnel of CRPF. “We must recognise the sacrifices of our paramilitary forces, like the CRPF & award their martyrs the title of ‘Shaheed’. Even if the PM’s ego will not allow him to act on my request, I hope he will act on the SC’s order for better pay to the Paramilitary,” he tweeted.