The ceremonial flame of the Amar Jawan Jyoti, a war memorial at the India Gate in Delhi, was extinguished on Friday for the first time since it was lit in 1972. The flame was merged with the torch at the National War Memorial, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019. The new memorial is situated less than a kilometre away on the same stretch as the Amar Jawan Jyoti.

The flame was moved in a torch from the Amar Jawan Jyoti memorial to the National War Memorial. Air Marshal Balabhadra Radha Krishna, the chief of integrated defence staff, carried out the merger of the flames.

The Amar Jawan Jyoti memorial’s flame was lit as a tribute to the soldiers who had died in the 1971 India-Pakistan war. It was inaugurated on the Republic Day of 1972 by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The memorial, which features marble pedestal with a rifle and a soldier helmet on it, is a mark of honour for military personnel.

Several social media users, including politicians from the Opposition parties and retired officers of the security forces have criticised the putting out of the Amar Jawan Jyoti flame.

“It is extremely sad that the eternal flame that was lit to honour our brave soldiers, will be extinguished,” Congress MP Rahul Gandhi wrote in a tweet. “Some people do not understand the meaning of patriotism and sacrifice - it does not matter, we will once again light up the Amar Jawan Jyoti for our soldiers.”

“This government has no respect for democratic tradition & established convention, whether in parliament or out of it,” wrote Congress MP Shashi Tharoor. “The sanctity acquired after fifty years of the Amar Jawan Jyoti is being lightly snuffed out. So everything must be reinvented post-2014?!”

Unidentified government officials had told ANI that misinformation was being circulated about extinguishing the flame at Amar Jawan Jyoti. It claimed that the flame was only being merged with the one at the National War Memorial.

However, an unidentified Army officer had confirmed to the news agency that flame will be extinguished and then merged with the memorial.

Several social media have expressed their anger over the government’s move. Here are some reactions: