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National War Memorial to miss August 15 deadline

National War Memorial to miss August 15 deadlineNEW DELHI: The much-awaited National War Memorial (NWM), which will honour over 22,600 soldiers who have laid down their lives in wars and operations since independence, will miss its deadline for inauguration by PM Narendra Modi on August 15.

"It will be possible to finish the NWM only by October now. Though most of the civil work is complete, finishing touches and landscaping are now underway," said a defence ministry official. The war museum at Princess Park, which will adjoin the NWM at the C Hexagon of the India Gate complex on the majestic Rajpath in Delhi, in turn, will be completed only by 2020 at the earliest.

In keeping with the aesthetics of the Central Vista, the layout of the NWM will basically have four concentric circles spread over 40 acres: Amar Chakra (circle of immortality), Veer Chakra (circle of bravery), Tyag Chakra (circle of sacrifice) and Rakshak Chakra (circle of protection). It will include a 15-metre tall central obelisk with the eternal flame, bronze murals, graphic panels, inscription of names of martyrs, busts of 21 Param Vir Chakra awardees, among other things.

The war museum, in turn, will showcase incredible acts of courage in the military history of India. It will, for instance, house the jeep-mounted RCL gun used by Havildar Abdul Hamid to destroy at least three Pakistani Patton tanks in the famous battle of Asal Uttar during the 1965 war. Abdul Hamid of 4 Grenadiers and Lt-Colonel AB Tarapore of 17 Horse were the only two Param Vir Chakra awardees, both posthumously, in that war.

India is probably the world's only major country not to have dedicated NWM, though the Army does maintain around 120 regional and individual war memorials at different places. The proposal for a NWM to honour soldiers martyred after Independence was first mooted in 1960 because the iconic India Gate was built by the British to honour the 84,000 Indian soldiers killed fighting for the Empire in World War-I and the Afghan campaign.

The Amar Jawan Jyoti was subsequently built under the arch of India Gate to honour the 3,843 soldiers who died liberating Bangladesh in 1971, but general politico-bureaucratic apathy ensured the NWM never became a concrete reality. The NDA government in 2015 finally approved the construction of the NWM and museum at a cost of Rs 500 crore.

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