WEEK AFTER UNVEILING, WW1 SIKH SOLDIER STATUE VANDALISED IN UK
LONDON: A statue of a Sikh soldier unveiled less than a week ago has been vandalised in the town of Smethwick in the West Midlands region of England. Photos tweeted by Amardeep Bassey, a journalist Huffington
Post UK, shows a thick black line of black spray paint covered the words ‘Great War’ of ‘Lions of the Great War’ and added next to it were the words ‘Sepoys no more’ and ‘1 Jarnail’. News portal Birmingham Live said the graffiti has since been removed. Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick had commissioned the monument, which depicts a turbaned Sikh soldier, to honour the sacrifices made by millions of South Asian service personnel of all faiths who fought for Britain in the World Wars and other conflicts as part of the British Indian Army. Meanwhile, the police have launched an appeal to arrest vandals who attacked the newly-inaugurated war memorial. “We understand that this attack has caused a lot of concern in the community, and we are working to understand the reasons behind it and identify whoever is responsible,” said Sergeant Bill Gill from the Smethwick Neighbourhood Team of West Midlands Police.
“Officers had already planned to be at the remembrance event which is happening tomorrow (November 11) at the statue. I’d urge anyone with concerns to speak to the officers attending the event,” he said. He added that CCTV footage is being recovered and officers are working closely with worshippers and management at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick, which had commissioned the statue to honour the sacrifices made by South Asian service personnel of all faiths from the Indian subcontinent who fought for Britain in the Great War and other conflicts. The words “Sepoys no more” were daubed on the base of
the sculpture while a thick black line was drawn through the words “Great War”. “Sepoy” was the term used in the British Indian Army for a soldier. “There was some vandalism to the back wall which is disappointing. The graffiti was cleaned off and the matter reported to the police,” Jatinder Singh, president of the Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick, said in a statement. He added, “Working with the council, we won’t allow this
vandalism to undermine the very strong message created by this new monument and the overwhelmingly positive reaction to its unveiling.” “What makes this incident particularly distressing, is the complete disregard and lack of respect for the significance of the statue and inscriptions installed recently to commemorate the losses felt by many South Asian families who lost their dear ones during the First World War and
to mark 100 years since the end of the Great War,” he said.