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Friday, December 18, 2009

A ‘VIJAY DIWAS’ SANS A NATIONAL MEMORIAL FOR WAR HEROES OF 1971(Tribute Paid At India Gate That Was Built By UK To Honour WW1 Soldiers)

Thirty-eight years after the 1971 war led to the liberation of Bangladesh, India still awaits the long-pending national war memorial (NWM) to honour the soldiers who laid down their lives to defend the nation.  On Wednesday, defence minister A K Antony and the three Service chiefs paid tributes at India Gate on Rajpath to mark ‘Vijay Diwas’.

But the majestic structure was constructed by the British to honour the 84,000 Indian soldiers killed fighting for the British Empire in World War I and the Afghan campaign.

There is no NWM to honour the soldiers, sailors and airmen who laid down their lives to guard an Independent India.  First mooted in the 1960s, the NWM proposal is still stuck in the long corridors of political and bureaucratic apathy. Antony claims the GoM constituted to look into the matter will ensure the NWM becomes a reality soon.  But similar promises have been made earlier. The bone of contention is that while the armed forces want the NWM to come up near India Gate on the Central Vista, the urban development ministry says it will disrupt the layout of the area, especially with the Commonwealth Games now on the horizon. “It’s a disgrace that a country like India does not have a NWM,’’ said a senior military officer.

The “conceptual design’’ for the NWM prepared by Army basically revolves around a landscape-type memorial around the ‘chhatri’ (canopy) near India Gate on the Central Vista, with “retaining walls’’ for inscribing the names of the martyrs.

HONOUR ABOVE EVERYTHING: Defence minister A K Antony and the three service chiefs mark ‘Vijay Diwas’ at India Gate on Wednesday

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