India has fought four wars in its short independent history and lost thousands of soldiers, but the country is yet to honour its martyrs with a memorial.
The proposal for National War Memorial (NWM) was first mooted in the 1960s and is still stuck in the long corridors of political and bureaucratic apathy. Virtually all defence ministers, past and present, have promised it but no decision has been taken so far.
A key dispute for NWM has been the choice of location, as the Indian Army wanted it to be behind the historic India Gate.
But it was opposed by the union ministry of urban development. Forty years on, specious arguments continue to fill file notings of many ministries.
Unable to find any solution, the matter was ultimately referred to a Group of Minister in August 2009.
“Shockingly, Bangladesh has a war memorial and Sri Lanka has built a memorial commemorating the sacrifices made by the Indian armed forces during Indian Peace Keeping Force operation between 1987-89. Sri Lanka built it right next to their own national war memorial in Colombo,” said an armyofficer.
“But it is sad that we do not have any memorial for the supreme sacrifice of our soldier who laid their lives during war. Though we have India Gate, but it is in the memory of soldiers of British India. Memorial for post-independence soldiers is still in waiting,” the officer added.
“A proposal for construction of National War Memorial at India Gate Complex has been under consideration for some time in consultation with the ministry of urban development, which has to assign the land for the project. Necessary action can be taken only after the recommendations of the GoM are finalised,” minister of state for defence Pallam Raju had stated in Parliament.
The India Gate, which at present is the only national war memorial, was built in the pre-independence era for Indian soldiers killed in action during the World War I and the third Anglo-Afghan War.
General JFR Jacob, whowas chief of staff of Eastern Command during 1971 war told DNA, “When I was governor of erstwhile Punjab, I made efforts to built National War Memorial. But now, I am tired of pushing the case for long time. Still our government can not decide on it. When most of the countries do have memorial for their war heroes, it is sad we are still missing that even after the glorious war of 1971.”