A Daughter Fights For India’s First National Military Memorial
Government inaction, utter neglect and uncountable excuses has led Priya Chetty Rajagopal to fight against the system to bring life to the National Military Memorial in Bengaluru which the Supreme Court had sanctioned eight years ago. Sadly, even in 2018 the memorial still waits for an unveiling. The state authorities have shirked away from their responsibility for far too long and the memorial to commemorate the sacrifices of the military remains half-built, ill-maintained, unsupervised and with the museum below often flooded.
July 26, regarded as the Kargil Vijay Diwas, pays tribute to the 527 soldiers who were martyred 19 years ago to protect our borders, in minus 42-degree weather. Rajagopal has started a campaign called #InMyFathersName. Through which she questions the state on why the National Military Memorial in these martyrs’ memory lies disrespected and in cobwebs.
Daughter of Col. DGK Chetty, Rajagopal tells SheThePeople.TV about her demands from the government. “We want respect from the Karnataka government for our soldiers who have given their lives for us. The freedom that we enjoy every day is because of those who died for us. The least, the very least, that we can do is to honour them and remember them.
We are asking the Karnataka government to move the Veeragallu stone 45 km to its right full location. And then to inaugurate and better maintain the National Military Memorial and its museum.”
The Veeragallu or the Hero Stone was built in 2010. It had 22,600 names of soldiers carved, at 75 feet and 700 tonnes it had to be shifted by Ahmedabad based Nabros Transport at a Rupees 5.6 crores tender. It required the coordination of BDA, BBMP, NHAI and Bangalore Traffic Police. In the last eight years, it has seen over 6 postponements but no development on the shifting.
Talking about why it matters to her so much, Rajagopal says, “We are a group of people whose fathers and siblings were and are (in some cases) in the army. The reality and possibility of death has always existed for us. If this hasn’t ever been the case for the reader of this sentence, then that is the luxury that our families have provided for the rest of the country.”
“The military, after giving whatever the memorial required from their side, has stood back quiet and dignified, and possibly embarrassed by the inaction of the Government. They have stood there waiting for the medal on the chest, a medal they did not ask for, in the first place, for eight long years now. Think of the mortification, the humiliation,” reads the Change.org petition.
Rajagopal has sat on various TV debate panels in June and July 2017 where the CM, ministers and bureaucrats all said they felt hugely embarrassed by the inaction and would fix the problem immediately or latest by 15 August 2017. But even a year later, not much has changed.
Today’s generation needs to understand that our democracy, our freedoms, our secularism, our culture, everything is on the graves of those who have relentlessly protected us while giving up their own lives.
Currently, the situation at the National Military Memorial is that it has 12 slabs with the names of all the soldiers who have gone and two empty slabs. The site where the Veeragallu will stand has garbage all around it.
In India, wars, border skirmishes are things that happen far away. It doesn’t touch our lives – it’s something relegated to the newspaper, says Rajagopal.
“Today’s generation needs to understand that our democracy, our freedoms, our secularism, our culture, everything is on the graves of those who have relentlessly protected us while giving up their own lives.
These are not unknown soldiers. They have names and the society must never forget them,” she adds.