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Memorial for 21 Sikh soldiers in London
London, Sept 11 (IANS):
Published on 11 Sep. 2010 11:17 PM IST
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Prominent members of the Sikh community in the UK, and a former senior official of the British Army are planning to establish a permanent national memorial to mark the sacrifice of 21 Sikh soldiers, who had laid down their lives in the battle of Saragarhi Sep 12, 1897.
Coordinated by the Anglo Sikh Heritage Trail (ASHT), this campaign is also asking Britain to officially recognise the battle and its crucial role in their history. This permanent national memorial will be erected in central London.
ASHT is a project of the Maharajah Duleep Singh Centenary Trust, which was established in 1993. Its primary objective is to highlight and promote Anglo-Sikh heritage. “The bravery shown by Sikh soldiers is unbelievable and it is important that their sacrifice is remembered. The memorial of the 21 soldiers will act as a permanent reminder of that famous battle. We are also asking the government to formally recognise their sacrifice,” said former British judge Mota Singh Saturday. Mota Singh was Britain’s first Sikh and Asian judge. Opting to wear a white turban in court, instead of the traditional wig, he is seen as a sign of multicultural Britain.
In the battle of Saragarhi, 21 soldiers from the 36th Sikh Regiment of British India defended their army post against 10,000 tribesmen Sep 12, 1897. This battle was fought in the North West Frontier Province, now part of Pakistan. The anniversary of the Saragarhi battle will be observed Sunday by a series of events across the UK to recognise the role of Sikh soldiers in the British Army in the past and in present.
Field Marshal Sir John Chapple, former chief of the general staff, British army said: “Sikh regiments have played an important role in the British Army and the soldiers who laid down their lives at the battle of Saragarhi were immensely brave. This battle is an important part of history and should be remembered.”
The 21 Sikh soldiers were posthumously awarded the Indian Order of Merit, the highest gallantry award of that time that an Indian soldier could receive. ASHT is also urging people to pledge their support by logging on to Facebook and other social network communities. Indarjit Singh, a British broadcaster and journalist, who is also backing the campaign, stated: “Such episodes in history are very important as they inspire us.”

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