New Delhi: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday paid her tributes to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty and emphsised the need for the War Memorial in the country, for which she said, it had to wait for decades.
“We waited for several decades for this day… Today under the leadership of Narendra Modi we fulfilled that commitment of a war memorial,” Sitharaman said in her address at the inauguration of the memorial. “After more than 70 years of independence, India will now have the National War Memorial dedicated to the martyrs who made the supreme sacrifice in the interest of the country,” she said.
Since Independence in 1947, the Minister said, India has lost 22,500 soldiers to war and other conflicts. The India Gate, near where the newly-built War Memorial is located, was set up to honour the Indian soldiers lost to the First World War and the Afghanistan-Waziristan campaign between British India and Afghanistan in 1919. She said that there was an “inexorable requirement” for a war memorial to honor soldiers who were martyered in Indo-Pak conflicts in 1947, 1965, 1971, and 1999; 1965 India-China war; and sacrifices made by Indian Peace Keeping Forces in Sri Lanka and as part of UN Peace Keeping forces elsewhere.
The Defence Minister called the War Memorial a “marvel of design” which “homogeneously merges with its surroundings”. Built at a cost of Rs 171 crore, the memorial has a 15.5 metre tall obelisk with an eternal flame and 16 circular walls of honour on which names of 25,942 martyrs have been carved in golden on granite tablets. The pattern of the walls symbolise the ancient Indian war formation “Chakravyuh”. The design of the memorial has a layout comprising four concentric circles, namely the ‘Amar Chakra’ or Circle of Immortality, the ‘Veerta Chakra’ or Circle of Bravery, the ‘Tyag Chakra’ or Circle of Sacrifice and the ‘Rakshak Chakra’or Circle of Protection.