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Friday, Oct 18, 2019

India Gate heroes on C?wealth list

The 75,000 soldiers whose names are engraved on the walls of India Gate are finally on the record.

india Updated: Jan 28, 2006 14:08 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis

The 75,000 Commonwealth soldiers whose names are engraved on the walls of India Gate are finally on the record. 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 two World Wars. The Commission’s job is to maintain records of dead soldiers of Commonwealth countries till World War II.

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, though India Gate is “… in a very public place and in the heart of a bustling city”, the Commission didn’t have 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 defence authorities allowed high-level access by a crane. Subsequently, it carried out the 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, was in the Capital on Friday and met Lt Gen A.S. Jamwal, adjutant general at Army headquarters. Besides discussions on how to carry forward the India Gate project, Sir Peter also informed Jamwal that the CWGC, while inspecting graves and memorials in Pakistan and Bangladesh besides India, had come across the same names on more than one memorial. For example, the same name figures, say, on a memorial in Chittagong and Mumbai. Or in Delhi and Karachi.

“There are thousands of such instances,” Sir Peter said. “Between Mumbai and Chittagong, there are more than 6,000 names that figure on memorials in both places. For Delhi and Karachi, the figure is more than 25,000,” an army source added. All these soldiers fought during World War II.

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

First Published: Jan 28, 2006 02:32 IST

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