A statue of a Sikh soldier has been unveiled in a Huddersfield park to commemorate the thousands of Sikhs who fought and died in World War One and Two.
The £65,000 Indian bronze statue which was revealed at Greenhead Park, Huddersfield, has been installed thanks to donations and campaigning from the Sikh Soldier organisation, which is a charitable body run entirely by volunteers.
Thousands of soldiers from India came to Europe to join the fight in World Wars one and two. The soldiers were from Hindu, Mulsim as well as Sikh faiths. Many believe these are the forgotten heroes and have been lost in history.
The Sikh Soldier orgnaisation believe that thousands of Sikhs gave their lives so that they could be free and that their legacy is worthy of remembrance.
In the two World Wars Sikhs played prominent roles in the conflicts. The Sikh Soldier organisation say that the closest estimates report that around 83,000 Sikhs gave their lives in the battlefields of the two World Wars, with 109,045 wounded in battle across the world.
President of the Sikh Soldier organisation Mr Tim Bhullar told Asian Sunday the monument is not just for Sikhs it is for everyone.
“We used to go to Remembrance Day service every year for the past 15 years and it was always upsetting not just for the Sikh community, but for everyone from The Commonwealth of the forgotten heroes who also fought in both World War one and two.” Said Mr Bhullar
“What really made an impact was when someone questioned me one day at a service that ‘What are you doing here?’ So we thought rather than blaming others we thought let’s do something about it and so today we’ve accomplished our mission, to get the statue put in place. The support has been overwhelming and the unveiling of the statue has been an emotional moment.”
Mr Bhullar also reflected on the significant milestone of the statue, as it coincides with the 550th celebration of the founder of the Sikh faith – Guru Nanak Devji.
Mr Bhullar wanted to share a message. He said:”This [ monument ] is what we have to do to get a positive message out there. Bickering and pointing fingers doesn’t get us anywhere. We need to grow up and say look we are still here. We belong to this country, we work here, we breathe here, we do everything here. But let’s give positive messages out there and let’s hope people relate to them.”