On Sunday, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated to the nation the National Police Memorial (NPM) in recognition of the supreme sacrifice made by police personnel since independence. October 21 is observed as the Police Commemoration Day every year in memory of the policemen killed at Hot Springs in Ladakh by Chinese troops on this date in 1959. However, the project to build police memorial was mooted more than three decades ago. Then why did it take such a long time to complete?
In fact, the idea of building a police memorial was first conceptualised in 1984. But the plan didn’t move beyond conceptual stage for next 18 years and it was only when the first NDA government came to power, plan was given a fresh lease of life. The home minister at the time, L. K. Advani, laid the foundation stone for the project in 2002. The earlier memorial was a 150 ft (46 m) structure of steel.
However, memorial construction had to be halted as the Delhi Urban Art Commission objected to the design aesthetics and height of the tower-like memorial. The fact that the height of the proposed memorial was higher than Rashtrapati Bhavan, which was less than a kilometer away from its location on Shanti Path, in the elite Diplomatic Enclave made the entire project controversial. It should be noted that the Lutyen’s Zone rules prescribe that no building should be taller than the maximum tree height on all the symbolic axes (axis) radiating from the presidential palace, and most certainly not higher than its dome. As a result, the bell-like structure earlier designed and erected was brought down in 2008.
A new design was selected, based on a national competition and new designer, Lotus, envisaged a more horizontal and spread-out approach rather than the previous ‘tall boy’ tower.
Now the central sculpture of the memorial is a 30 feet monolith made of a single piece of granite, weighing 238 tonnes. Its weight and colour symbolise the gravitas and solemnity of the supreme sacrifice. A 60 foot long river at the base of the sculpture reflects the continuous self-service of the policeman and woman, to maintain peace and public order.
The Wall of Valour has the names of all 34,844 martyrs engraved on granite. The memorial, built a few years ago, has now been refurbished and the central structure has been enhanced by replacing the old rock structure.