The iconic inverted helmet and rifle, which were a part of the Amar Jawan Jyoti war memorial at the India Gate in Delhi, was moved to the National War Memorial on Friday.
The National War Memorial is situated less than a kilometre away on the same stretch as the Amar Jawan Jyoti. The memorial was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019.
The move came four months after the ceremonial flame of the Amar Jawan Jyoti was extinguished for the first time since it was lit in 1972. The flame was merged with the torch at the National War Memorial.
On Friday, the Ministry of Defence said that the inverted helmet and rifle were shifted to the Param Yodha Sthal at the National War Memorial and installed between the busts of Param Vir Chakra awardees.
“As part of the ceremony, a final salute was given and CISC [Chiefs of Staff Committee] offered a wreath at India Gate,” the ministry said in a statement. “Thereafter the inverted rifle and helmet was removed and carried in a ceremonial vehicle to the Param Yodha Sthal.”
The ceremony was led by Air Marshal BR Krishna, the chief of integrated defence staff. Senior officers from the Army, the Navy and the Air Force also attended the event.
“With this ceremony, the integration of the memorial of fallen soldiers of 1971 war with National War Memorial has been completed,” the ministry said.
The Amar Jawan Jyoti was inaugurated on the Republic Day in 1972 by Indira Gandhi, who was then the prime minister, as a tribute to the soldiers who had died in the 1971 India-Pakistan war.
Several politicians from the Opposition parties and retired officers of the security forces had criticised the government’s decision of 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 had said 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.”
Unidentified government officials had claimed that misinformation was circulated about extinguishing the flame at Amar Jawan Jyoti. They had claimed that the flame was only being merged with the one at the National War Memorial.
However, an unidentified Army officer had told ANI that flame was to be first extinguished and then merged with the memorial.