New Delhi: For the first time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will pay respects to the fallen soldiers at the National War Memorial on the Republic Day and not at the Amar Jawan Jyoti beneath the India Gate arch.
The National War Memorial built to honour Indian soldiers who fell while defending the country after Independence was dedicated to the nation in February 2019 by Mr Modi.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit the National War Memorial on January 26 morning before the commencement of the Republic Day Parade, and lay a wreath at the memorial in the presence of the three services chiefs and the Chief of the Defence Staff,” said a senior Army official.
Names of 26,700 armed forces personnel from three services who died in the service of the nation after 15th August 1947 is inscribed on the walls of the Memorial in golden letters. Now all the wreath-lying ceremonies to honour the Indian soldiers are held at the National War Memorial and not at the India Gate.
This will also be the first time that a Chief of the Defence Staff will take part in the Republic Day. Amar Jawan Jyoti is symbolised by an inverted bayonet and soldier’s helmet over it with an eternal flame burning beside it. India Gate was built by the British to honour the 83,000 British Indian Army soldiers who died during World War 1 and the third Anglo-Afghan War.
Amar Jawan Jyoti was started in January 1972 to honour the 3,843 Indian soldiers who laid down their lives in the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971 by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
The National War Memorial has a a layout of four landscaped concentric circles spread over 40 acres. At the Centre is the Amar Chakra (circle of immortality) which has an obelisk with “eternal flame”. The Veer Chakra (circle of bravery) is a covered gallery that exhibits six murals crafted in bronze depicting valiant battle of the armed forces.