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Iconic Inverted Rifle and Helmet shifted from India Gate to National War Memorial

Integration of Memorial to fallen soldiers of 1971 War with National War Memorial declared complete

Photo Credit : Ministry of Defence

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File photo of the Inverted Rifle and Helmet at India Gate in New Delhi

The iconic Inverted Rifle and Helmet, which powerfully symbolises the ultimate sacrifice made by Indian soldiers in the 1971 War, was shifted from India Gate to the National War Memorial in a solemn military ceremony on May 27 in the heart of New Delhi

The Inverted Rifled and Helmet has been reinstalled in the midst of busts of Param Vir Chakra awardees at the Param Yodhya Sthal in the National War Memorial complex, farther down the C-Hexagon at India Gate towards National Stadium.

“With this ceremony, the integration of the Memorial of Fallen Soldiers of 1971 war with National War Memorial has been completed,” the Ministry of Defence declared in a statement. 

In the absence of a National War Memorial at that time, the Inverted Rifle and Helmet was installed at India Gate – a World War-I Memorial built by the Imperial British regime and inaugurated in 1931 - and an eternal flame set up alongside as the nation’s tribute to the almost 3,900 Indian soldiers who had made the ultimate sacrifice in the 1971 War, which resulted in India’s most consequential military victory. The Amar Jawan Jyoti was inaugurated on January 26, 1972. 

On February 25, 2019, the Modi Government fulfilled a long-standing emotive demand of the Indian military community to build a National War Memorial, which honours the ultimate sacrifice made by soldiers from the armed forces after India’s Independence in 1947.

Consequently, the eternal flame or Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate was “merged” with the one at the National War Memorial on January 21. The shifting of the Inverted Rifled and Helmet on May 27 completes the process of merging the 1971 War Memorial with the new National War Memorial. 

This renders the India Gate – one of the most iconic symbols of India’s capital – as a colonial relic which is a memorial to 84,000 soldiers of the British Indian Army who died between 1914 and 1921 in the World War-I, in France, Flanders, Mesopotamia, Persia, East Africa, Gallipoli and elsewhere in the Near and the Far East, and the Third Anglo-Afghan War. The names of 13,300 soldiers, including some soldiers and officers from the United Kingdom, are inscribed on India Gate.

The May 27 ceremony to shift and reinstall the Inverted Rifle and Helmet symbol was led by the Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC) Air Marshal BR Krishna and attended by the Indian Army’s Adjutant General and equivalents from the Indian Air Force and the Navy. 

As part of the ceremony, a final salute was given and the CISC laid a wreath at India Gate. Thereafter, the Inverted Rifle and Helmet was removed and carried in a ceremonial vehicle to the Param Yodha Sthal and installed at a newly created monument. The CISC, accompanied by the Army’s Adjutant General and his equivalents from the sister Services, presented a salute to the new monument.