PM Inaugurates National War Memorial, Says Cong ‘Blocking’ Rafale
“From Bofors to the helicopter deal, all investigations are pointing towards one family,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, 25 February, as he attacked the Congress party while inaugurating the National War Memorial in New Delhi.
PM Modi attacked the Congress, saying that for the previous government, it was always ‘family first’ – as opposed to keeping the country first. He also said that the Congress is trying to stop Rafale jets from coming to India.
The prime minister addressed a gathering during the inauguration of the National War Memorial at the India Gate in the national capital on Monday. The memorial has been built in the memory of soldiers killed in action since Independence.
Modi had shared some photos of the memorial before the inauguration.
PM Modi dedicated the National War Memorial to every soldier martyred while fighting for the country in the 70 years of Independence.
He also said that the work on building the memorial started in 2014 and has been completed before schedule.
During the address, PM Modi also spoke about his government’s efforts to "make lives easier” for the armed forces.
“To make lives easier for our soldiers and their families, we have made a lot of decisions in the last 4.5 years and will keep making more throughout. For the integrity of the nation, this pradhaan sevak (supreme servant) will always keep the interest of the nation above before making any decision.”Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India
‘India First or Family First?’
PM Modi used the inauguration to attack the Congress, asking why India’s soldiers have not been looked upon by the previous governments – “India First or Family First,” PM Modi asked.
He also slammed the previous governments for not making a National War Memorial for martyrs. The prime minister said, “for them (Congress govt), the forces were a source of income, maybe they weren’t making a profit out of remembering the jawans, they thought it’s better to forget about them altogether.”
“These are the people who are trying that the Rafale jet never lands in India. However, when it takes to the Indian skies, it will kill all their efforts and hopes.”Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India
What Do We Know About the War Memorial?
The National War Memorial, spread over 40 acres in the India Gate complex behind the canopy, is dedicated to soldiers killed in the Indo-China War of 1962, Indo-Pak wars in 1947, 1965 and 1971, Indian peace-keeping force operations in Sri Lanka, the Kargil conflict in 1999, and the UN peacekeeping missions.
The 42-metre-high India Gate was built during the British Raj as the All India War Memorial Arch to honour the soldiers who had 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.
"Over 80,000 Indian laid their lives in those campaigns and India Gate bears names of 13,516 etched over its surface. Amar Jawan Jyoti was built to commemorate India's victory in the Indo-Pak War of 1971. So, both flames will have their own importance," Lt Gen Rajeshwar said.
On Sunday, 24 February, Chief of Integrated Defence Staff Lt Gen PS Rajeshwar said the Amar Jawan Jyoti, built in 1972 underneath the India Gate arch to commemorate soldiers martyred in the Indo-Pak War of 1971, “will continue to be there.” The Amar Jawan Jyoti is a memorial symbolised by an inverted bayonet and soldier's helmet over it with an eternal flame burning beside it.
Lt Gen Rajeshwar said that at the new memorial, there will be a wreath-laying retreat ceremony held every evening.
The names of 25,942 battle casualties have been inscribed across 16 walls at the national memorial.
Asked if new names can be added there, he said, "Yes, there is scope for that... We will hold a periodic review for that." He also informed that only names of those soldiers have been included in the new memorial, which were "frozen in time" before we began the construction work in February last year.
"The cut-off date for including those names of fallen soldiers was till 2017 for the army and early 2018 for the air force and navy," Rajeshwar said.
He said footfall of about 250 can be accommodated at a time, so it will be regulated.
(With inputs from PTI)