Amar Jawan Jyoti: BJP Says 'Merged, Not Put Out'; Others Claim ‘Memory Erasure'
Retired IAF air vice-marshal Manmohan Bahadur said that there is "nothing historic" about the move.
The 'eternal' flame of the Amar Jawan Jyoti, which has been burning for 50 years, will be put out and merged with the flame at the National War Memorial on Friday, 21 January, reported news agency ANI, quoting an Indian Army official.
Established by the British government on 10 February 1921, the India Gate memorial was built in memory of the British Indian Army soldiers who lost their lives between 1914 and 1921.
The Amar Jawan Jyoti flame, however, was included in the memorial post the 1971 India-Pakistan war, in which 93,000 Pakistani troops had surrendered.
The flame will now be merged with the Amar Jawan Jyoti flame at the National War Memorial, which was established in January 2019.
'True Shraddhanjali': BJP Defends Move
While there have been several negative reactions from politicians and army veterans alike, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has defended the move.
BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra offered the "correct perspective", and said in a tweet thread, "The names of all Indian martyrs from all the wars, including 1971 and wars before and after it are housed at the National War Memorial. Hence it is a true shraddhanjali to have the flame paying tribute to martyrs there."
Meanwhile, Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia (Retd) was quoted as saying:
"Today is a great occasion, the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate is (being) merged with the National War Memorial. It's a good decision. Time has come to shift the Amar Jawan Jyoti, to merge it with National War Memorial."Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia (Retd), as quoted by ANI
'Wholesale Dealers of Indian Nationalism'
Calling it an erasure of memory and a disrespect for India's democratic tradition, several army veterans and politicians, have questioned and criticised the move.
Retired IAF air vice-marshal Manmohan Bahadur said in a tweet that there is "nothing historic" about the move and added, "We all will lose a part of our lives."
Further, Lt Col Anil Duhoon (Retd), like other veterans, has questioned the need for the 'eternal' flame to be merged at all.
He said in a tweet, "Amar Jawan Jyoti is too sacred to be touched/relocated. Why can't they have two of them?"
Meanwhile, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi, "It is a matter of great sadness that the eternal flame that used to burn for our brave soldiers will be extinguished today."
The move comes ahead of India's 73rd Republic Day, held on 26 January in the national capital.
The annual Republic Day Parade will be a relatively muted affair this year in light of the ongoing third wave of COVID-19, with COVID-appropriate changes and health protocols in place for a curtailed guest list.
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