New Delhi, Aug.17 (ANI) Defence minister A K Antony on Friday said that most of the hurdles coming in the way of the construction of the national war memorial next to India Gate have been cleared.
Talking to media persons after attending a function to felicitate London Olympic silver medalist Subedar Major Vijay Kumar here, Antony said:Most hurdles are over now.
Sources in the Ministry of Defence confirmed that the war memorial will be constructed near India Gate only, as that is the place demanded by the three services.
After a proposed meeting on the issue on August 21 of the Group of Ministers (GoM), a final meeting shall take place and and then cabinet approval will be sought, they added.
The armed forces had submitted a proposal three years ago to construct a war memorial within the India Gate complex, but after the initial rejection of their proposal by the Government recently, they are now looking at new locations for it.
The government had earlier decided against the proposal after certain objections were raised by the Urban Development Ministry.
The military's demand for a national war memorial to honour the 20,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen who have sacrificed their lives while defending independent India has been a longstanding one. A broad section of the urban public echoes this plea.
The demand is for a prominent memorial on New Delhi's Central Vista, which can be visited freely by the Indian public, and where wreathes can be offered by national leaders on occasions like the Republic Day, and by visiting foreign dignitaries who choose to do so.
The current memorial, the Amar Jawan Jyoti, is merely an add-on to the India Gate, an imposing 42-metre high British structure, built in 1921, to honour the 90,000 Indian soldiers who died in the First World War and the third Anglo-Afghan War.
India finds it bothersome to suitably commemorate those who fell in service of the republic.
Anyone who has travelled along India's borders with China and Pakistan cannot have missed the lonely memorials at the places where Indian troops fought and died.
Amongst them, is the stark monument to Major Shaitan Singh and his 111 Kumaoni soldiers who battled to the last, holding up a major Chinese advance on the desolate, windswept plateau of Chushul.
Major Shaitan Singh is a winner of the Param Vir Chakra, and is honoured only in that unvisited war memorial near Chushul. No national memorial is inscribed with the name of Major Shaitan Singh.
According to an article written by former army officer-turned journalist Ajai Shukla a couple of years ago, the proposal for a National War Memorial predates independent India.
According to Shukla, a confidential memo, issued on March 3, 1945, from the War Department in New Delhi (in File No. 110-C/45, entitled Indian National War Memorial, in the Governor's Secretariat, Confidential Branch) declares that the Government of India (GoI) has been examining the question of the form that an Indian National War Memorial should take.
The memo orders that the establishment of a Military Academy on the lines of the United States Military Academy at West Point for the education and basic training together of future officers of the Royal Indian Navy, the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force would be the most suitable form for the memorial to take.
In short, according to Shukla, New Delhi proposed that what was to become the famous National Defence Academy (NDA), which is still the bedrock of Indian officer training, would also serve as India's National War Memorial.
Till date, India does not have a memorial for post-independence martyrs.(ANI)