To commemorate the end of 100 years since World War One (WW1), a 10 feet statue of a Sikh soldier has been unveiled in the town centre at Smethwick, in West Midlands. Hundreds of people gathered at High Street on Sunday 4th morning, to witness the moment the finished sculpture, designed by Black Country sculptor Luke Perry, was revealed for the first time. It was met with rapturous applause as it was unveiled.
The statue cost has been covered by Guru Nanak Gurdwara, Smethwick to honour the millions of men from the British Indian Army who served in the two world wars. The new 'Lions of the Great War' monument has been placed between the High Street and Tollhouse Way as part of a community project and collaboration between the Gurdwara and the local Sandwell Council.
Jatinder Singh, President of the Gurdwara, reportedly said, "I'm absolutely so proud. The contribution of Sikhs and of all of the faiths that came over from South Asia is immeasurable.
"It's so amazing. And the response from the community is just incredible, this statue has got such a big connection to so many.
"In the past, the Sikh contribution - and all the faiths from South Asia - was missing from British history but now it will go down in British history."
BBC reported that Preet Kaur Gill, MP for the nearby Birmingham constituency of Edgbaston, who is the chairwoman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs, said, “Despite being small in number in British India, Sikhs played an important part in the War, making up more than a fifth of the British Indian Army.
"This statue will serve as a reminder to those Sikh soldiers who sacrificed their lives in defence of democracy and in the fight for freedom."
The Gurdwara donated around £20,000 for the sculpture, with the council investing in creating the public space with seating and lighting to house the new monument.
Councillor Steve Eling, Leader of Sandwell Council said, "It's so important we remember the sacrifices made by people for our country.
The statue stands on a granite plinth with inscriptions naming the regiments in which South Asian soldiers served during the Great War.
Perry said, "When I realised more than 1.5 million Indian soldiers had been sent to World War I, I just could not understand why their contribution had been ignored for so long in this country.
"Indians of all religions fought in the war and we are such a diverse multicultural country in part because of the sacrifices they made, so this is a wonderful statement which will be perfect for the Commonwealth Games and everything they represent," he said, in reference to the 2020 Commonwealth Games to be held in Birmingham, around 4 miles from Smethwick.
photo courtesy: Facebook