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Flame merger held amid protests by Opposition
New Delhi, Amid protests by the Opposition including the Congress and AAP, the flame at Amar Jawan Jyoti was merged with the eternal flame at National War Memorial in a solemn ceremony held with full military honours on Friday.

The ceremony was presided over by Chief of Integrated Defence Staff Air Marshal BR Krishna.

The merger ended the system of keeping two separate flames to honour the fallen heroes of the country. The moment marked a transition in the history of India Gate memorial where the Amar Jawan Jyoti flame had been burning since 1971.

"The National War Memorial houses the eternal flame which exemplifies the supreme sacrifice made by a soldier in the line of duty thus making him immortal. Since its inauguration, all homage ceremonies are being conducted only at the National War Memorial, including those on National Days," said a statement issues by the Defence Ministry.

National War Memorial was inaugurated and dedicated to the nation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 25, 2019.

The names of soldiers who sacrificed their lives post independence in all India-Pakistan and India-China conflicts as well as in counter terrorism operations in the country have been etched at the National War Memorial.

Earlier, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi slammed the government for merging the Amar Jawan Jyoti with National war memorial.

"It is a matter of great sadness that the immortal flame that used to burn for our brave soldiers will be extinguished today. Some people can't understand patriotism and sacrifice – never mind… We will once again light the Amar Jawan Jyoti for our soldiers," Rahul Gandhi tweeted on Friday.

The Indian Youth Congress also organised protests in the capital opposing the decision of the government.

Sources in government clarified saying the flame of the Amar Jawan Jyoti was not being extinguished but it was being merged with the flame at the National War Memorial.

"It is iconic that people who did not make a National War Memorial for 7 decades are now making a hue and cry when a permanent and fitting tribute is being made to our martyrs," government sources said following objections raised by Rahul Gandhi.

Aam Aadmi Party MP Sanjay Singh also targetted the Prime Minister saying "the PM is insulting the martyrdom of soldiers and the country will not forgive him."

Most of the veterans have supported the government's move saying "it reduces logistics and doesn't devalue iconic India Gate."

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