Amar Jawan Jyoti at iconic India Gate was merged with the flame at the National War Memorial in a military ceremony followed by a parade on Friday. The torch bearing the flames from Amar Jawan Jyoti was carried and merged with National War Memorial in a full military tradition.
Soldiers from tri services marched carrying the flame from India Gate to the war memorial metres away from there.
Air Marshal Balabhadra Radha Krishna, Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC), presided over the ceremony. The officer laid wreath first at Amar Jawan Jyoti and then at War Memorial. He was welcomed by three deputy chiefs in full military tradition.
Amar Jawan Jyoti was built in 1972 underneath the India Gate arch to commemorate soldiers martyred in the Indo-Pak War of 1971. It is a memorial symbolised by an inverted bayonet and soldier's helmet over it with an eternal flame burning beside it.
Amar Jawan Jyoti's existence was questioned two years ago when National War Memorial came into existence and the nation got a new eternal flame there.
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 chief used to pay respect at Amar Jawan Jyoti.
But with new eternal flame at National War Memorial and wreath-laying ceremony on all designated days being carried out at memorial made the force to merge the flames.
National War Memorial was built in memory of soldiers and unsung heroes who have 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 in 1999, and also those in the UN peacekeeping missions.
The defence veterans were divided over merging of flame from India Gate to National War Memorial.
Lieutenant General Satish Dua (Retd) said: "It gives me great satisfaction that the eternal flame of Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate is being merged with the National War Memorial (NWM)."
He further stated: "As someone who had steered the design selection and construction of NWM, I'd been of this view all along ...India Gate is a memorial to the fallen heroes of First World War. The Amar Jawan Jyoti was added in 1972 as we did not have another memorial. National War Memorial pays homage to the fallen Bravehearts after independence.
All homage ceremonies had shifted to NWM already."
Contrary to it Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur stated that the eternal flame at India Gate is part of India's psyche. You, I and our generation grew up saluting our brave jawans there. While National War Memorial is great, the memories of Amar Jawan Jyoti are indelible."
He requested to rescind the decision.