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Indian soldiers' names engraved on India Gate

By agencies   |   Tuesday, 31 January 2006, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: The 90,000 Indian soldiers whose names are engraved on the walls of India Gate have finally been immortalized. The monument figures prominently in the latest report of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), which deals with cemeteries and memorials of Commonwealth soldiers who died during the 2nd world wars.

For the first time, a team from the CWGC last year took digital photographs of the names engraved on India Gate. Most of them belong to Indian soldiers who died in World War I and the Afghan wars fighting for British India.

According to the report, although India Gate is “in a public place and in the heart of a bustling city,” the commission did not have the permission to make digital records of the names till now due to security concerns. This had also made “efficient inspection and maintenance by the commission very difficult.”
The CWGC finally got permission to make digital records early last year when defense authorities allowed high-level access through a crane.

Subsequently, it carried out a four-day project, comprising a close survey and detailed photography of the structure, built in 1921-31. Sir Peter Squire, Air Chief Marshal (retired) and now Vice-Chairman of CWGC met Lt Gen A S Jamwal, Adjutant-General at army headquarters.

Besides the discussions on how to carry forward the India Gate project, he also informed Jamwal that the CWGC, while inspecting graves and memorials in Pakistan and Bangladesh in addition to those in India, had come across the same names on more than one memorial.

The commission is now rebuilding the Zehrensdorf cemetery, some 30 kilometers from Berlin, which was meant for Indian soldiers who died as prisoners of war (POW) during World War I. The cemetery will be officially be re-dedicated in October this year.

India Gate (originally called the All India War Memorial), situated on the Rajpath in New Delhi, was built by Edwin Lutyens to commemorate the Indian soldiers who died in World War I and the Afghan wars. The foundation stone was laid on February 10, 1921 by the Duke of Connaught.

The names of the soldiers who died in those wars are inscribed on its walls. It was completed in 1931. Burning under it since 1971 is the Amar Jawan Jyoti, the Eternal Soldier's Flame, which marks the Unknown Soldier's Tomb.

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