Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday inaugurated the National War Memorial near India Gate. He lit the flame kept at the bottom of the stone-made pillar to pay homage to the soldiers who died in the line of duty.

The National War Memorial, spread across 40 acres, also commemorates those personnel who participated in and lost their lives in peace-keeping missions and counter-insurgency operations. The memorial complex includes a central obelisk, an eternal flame, and six bronze murals depicting famous battles fought by the Indian Army, Air Force and Navy.

The layout of the structure comprises four concentric circles, named the Amar Chakra, Veerta Chakra, Tyag Chakra and Rakshak Chakra. The busts of 21 awardees of the Param Veer Chakra are installed at the Param Yoddha Sthal.

An unidentified senior Army officer told PTI that the new memorial will not replace the Amar Jawan Jyoti, which was built in 1972 underneath the India Gate arch to commemorate soldiers killed in the Indo-Pak War of 1971.

Modi said the memorial is proof that his administration converts visions into reality. He said his government’s “success in implementing the One Rank, One Pension scheme” was another such example.

The prime minister paid his tributes to the 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel who were killed in the terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama on February 14.

Modi dedicated the memorial to the nation. “India is eternally grateful to all those who have served the nation with utmost bravery and vigour,” he said. “It is due to them that our nation is safe, secure and can reach new heights of progress.”

Modi accused the erstwhile Congress-led United Progressive Alliance of compromising the security of armed forces by not buying essential equipment including bullet proof jackets. “From Bofors to Helicopter Scam, why is it that the same people’s names come up?” Modi asked.

He said the people of India have seen a difference between a government guided by “India First” and a government guided by “Family First”. “Those who focused on ‘Family First’ were bothered about naming everything under the sun after one family,” Modi said. “Our way is different, we care for 130 crore Indians.”

The prime minister said women have been allowed to become fighter pilots under his administration and that efforts are underway to increase their roles in the armed forces. “The decisions which were once considered impossible, we [NDA] made possible,” Modi said.

Congress criticise PM Modi ahead of inauguration

Congress President Rahul Gandhi said sacrifices of the paramilitary forces like the Central Reserve Police Force should be recognised and award them the title of “shaheed” or martyr to personnel killed in the line of duty.

Gandhi alleged Modi’s ego was not allowing him to act on his request. “I hope he will act on the SC’s order for better pay to the Paramilitary,” Gandhi tweeted citing a report on the Centre opposing salary hikes to the CRPF and Central Armed Police Forces.

Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal questioned Modi on what he had done to save the lives of soldiers in the past five years. “We stand by the war memorial,” he said, according to PTI. “It is for the prime minister to tell us how we save the lives of our security forces.”

Sibal asked how the government planned to prevent the killings of security personnel in terror attacks, like the incidents in Uri and Pulwama.