UK Govt to Fund Sikh War Memorial in London
UK government backs plan to build a memorial in London to honor Sikh soldiers who fought in the two world wars.
The UK government has given a nod for building a memorial in London in honor of Sikh servicemen who fought in the two world wars for the United Kingdom and its allies. The announcement to build the war memorial was made by Communities secretary Sajid Javid on Jan 30, and aims to fulfill a long-standing demand of the Sikh community in Britain.
“The part played by Sikh servicemen really stands out – a contribution that’s all the more remarkable when you consider that these brave men traveled thousands of miles to fight for a country that wasn’t their own,” Javid was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times.
Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, the Labour Party MP from Slough, is spearheading a campaign to identify a suitable site for the memorial. The government said it will fund the project.
Javid further said: “We are indebted to all those servicemen who volunteered to serve and fought to defend the freedoms we enjoy today. That’s why a Sikh war memorial in our nation’s capital will honor their sacrifice and ensure that this part of our shared history is never forgotten. So I am delighted to get behind this campaign and ensure its success.”
Talking of the bravery and sacrifice of the Sikh servicemen in British armed forces, the UK government said in a statement that more than 83,000 turbaned Sikh soldiers sacrificed their lives and more than 100,000 were injured during the two world wars.
“Despite making up only two per cent of the Indian population when the First World War broke out, Sikhs accounted for more than 20 per cent of the Indian Army’s manpower. Sikh soldiers from the Punjab and surrounding states saw action in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, most notably on the Western Front and at Gallipoli,” the statement said, adding that of the 22 Military Crosses bestowed upon Indian soldiers, 14 were awarded to Sikhs.
Last month, the motion brought in by Dhesi in the House of Commons for the memorial, saw 244 signatures from MPs across political spectrum. This was the largest support for any such motion in the current parliament, the Hindustan Times had reported earlier. Dhesi’s motion was also supported by the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs.
The discussion for the memorial gained momentum when London Mayor Sadiq Khan recently visited the Golden Temple in Amritsar where he reportedly talked about how the United Kingdom owes a huge debt to the Sikh servicemen.