Condemning the vandalism at UK’s newly inaugurated Indian War Memorial, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has called for strict action against the culprits of the apparent racial attack on the occasion of the World War I centenary.
“The vandalism of the 10-foot-high statue, depicting a Sikh soldier of the 15th Sikh battalion, symbolic of the contribution of South Asian soldiers to World War I, was outrageous,” said the chief minister said in a statement while expressing serious concern and distress over the incident.
The incident comes in the backdrop of a series of racial attacks against Sikhs in the UK and other Western nations in recent months.
The statue was unveiled last Sunday and was damaged hours before a planned remembrance event to honour the Sikhs soldiers who laid down their lives during the Great War.
Over 74,000 soldiers from India died during World War I and several events were being organised in various countries to commemorate the sacrifices of soldiers from around the world who participated in the war effort between 1914 and 1918, as part of the centenary of the Great War.
The chief minister said that the “shocking and horrific act” was a clear attempt by racist elements to undermine the contribution of Sikhs soldiers to the war and to create an environment of hatred and enmity against the community.
“The anguish of the Sikh community over the incident was understandable,” he added, urging the UK authorities to go all out to identify and punish the culprits.
Guru Nanak Gurdwara, Smethwick had donated around 20,000 pounds for the bronze sculpture, while the local Sandwell Council had invested in creating the public space with seating and lighting to house the new monument.
The inaugural event was attended by hundreds, including Labour Party MP Preet Kaur Gill, the UK’s first female Sikh MP.
Mr Singh said that more than the financial loss, it was the “pain caused to the sentiments of the Sikh community, which had lost thousands of men to the war, in distant lands, far from their homes.”