A monument to the sacrifices and bravery of Sikh soldiers who fought for Britain during the First World War has been proposed by Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake.
Despite making up just 2% of the population of British India, Sikhs formed 20% of the British Indian Army as 130,000 Sikh soldiers saw active service from the Somme to Gallopoli.
With his bill attracting cross-party support, including the signature of Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith, Mr Brake believes the monument would be an important addition to London.
“It is vital we recognise the sacrifices and bravery of Sikh soldiers who fought for Britain during the First World War,” he said.
“A permanent monument in central London is long overdue and would highlight as well as create an important symbol of the sacrifices the Sikh community made in the Great War.”
Pressing Parliament to erect London’s 1st monument to Sikh troops in WW1 130000 troops’ service deserves recognition http://t.co/VYw39uObrn
— Tom Brake MP (@thomasbrake) September 14, 2015
The proposed monument would be built in central London, and be funded through public subscriptions.
Jay Singh-Sohal, the founder of the first Sikh War Memorial in the country welcomed the proposed monument.
He said: “It is a great idea to encourage people to undertake a pilgrimage to visit a Sikh memorial.
“We welcome any method of imparting knowledge to tell the story of our forebears.”
Mr Singh-Sohal’s Staffordshire monument was funded by a Kickstarter, which rose well over its £20,000 target, earning £22,685 in donations.
It is this source of funding that Mr Singh-Sohal believes is necessary for monuments of this nature.
He said: “I wouldn’t want it to be funded by anything other than people donating.
“It should not come from the state or government”.
Mr Singh-Sohal also suggested a reason why a memorial such as this has taken so long.
He said: “It’s been hard to tell our story, because of our relationship with the history of slavery and partition.
“We are now at the stage where it is part of our identity and we are reconciling with this.
“I hope it will inspire a younger audience.”
The first momuent to Sikh soldiers will be unveiled National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire on November 1, Tom Brake’s early day motion on a monument for central London has yet to be debated.
Picture courtesy of sikhsatwar.info, with thanks