The Hindu – UK amends new weapons bill to allow status quo on possession of kirpans

London – UK, 30 November 2018. The Offensive Weapons Bill 2018 is aimed at strengthening existing legislative measures on offensive weapons, focusing on corrosive substances, knives and certain types of firearm.

The United Kingdom government has confirmed an amendment to a new weapons bill going through Parliament to ensure that it would not impact the right of the British Sikh community to possess and supply kirpans or religious swords.

The Offensive Weapons Bill 2018 completed its various readings in the House of Commons this week and has now moved to the House of Lords for approval.

It involves a new offence of possessing certain offensive weapons in public and places new restrictions on the online sales of bladed articles and corrosive products in attempt to crackdown on rising knife and acid-related attacks in the country.

“We have engaged closely with the Sikh community on the issue of kirpans. As a result, we have amended the Bill to ensure that the possession and supply of large kirpans for religious reasons can continue,” a UK Home Office spokesperson said on Thursday.

Delegation to Home Office

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Sikhs led a delegation to the UK Home Office in recent weeks to ensure that the kirpan remains exempt when the new bill becomes law.

“I am pleased to see the government amendment and look forward to seeing an accompanying set of documentation, which reflects the importance of not criminalising the Sikh community for the sale or possession of large kirpans,” said Labour MP Preet Kaur Gill, Chair of the APPG for British Sikhs.

Ms. Gill, the first female Sikh MP in the House of Commons, was accompanied by APPG vice-chairs Pat McFadden and Dominic Grieve at a meeting with UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Home Office minister Victoria Atkins to discuss changes to the Offensive Weapons Bill, which would maintain status quo in continuing to legally safeguard the sale, possession and use of large kirpans.

Her fellow Sikh MP, Tan Dhesi, also made an intervention during the Offensive Weapons Bill debate in the Commons to seek “assurances about the kirpan, given the Sikh community’s serious concerns”.

Large kirpans, with blades over 50-cm, are used by the community during religious ceremonies in gurdwaras as well as for ceremonies involving the traditional Sikh Gatka martial art. They would have fallen foul of the new bill on the possession of large blades without the amendment, which has now been agreed.

The Offensive Weapons Bill 2018 is aimed at strengthening existing legislative measures on offensive weapons, focusing on corrosive substances, knives and certain types of firearm.

The Bill will give new laws to ban the sale of corrosive substances to anyone under the age of 18, to target people carrying acid, to make it more difficult for anyone under the age of 18 to buy knives online and to ban certain types of firearms.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/uk-amends-new-weapons-bill-to-allow-status-quo-on-possession-of-kirpans/article25631028.ece

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The Telegraph – Portrait of a UK Sikh soldier in contest

The photograph has been selected for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2018

Amit Roy

London – UK, 11 November 2018. A portrait of a 22-year-old Sikh from the Coldstream Guards, a famous British regiment, has been included in an international photographic competition at the National Portrait Gallery.

The photograph of Charanpreet Singh Lall, taken by London-based photographer Kurtiss Aaron Lloyd, has been selected for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2018, a “leading international competition, open to all, which celebrates and promotes the very best in contemporary portrait photography from around the world”.

The competition is sponsored by Taylor Wessing, “a leading full-service international law firm with over 400 partners and 1,100 lawyers in 19 jurisdictions around the world”.

Some 1,973 photographers from 70 countries entered 4,462 submissions this year. A total of 57 portraits from 49 artists have been short-listed for display.

The catalogue for the exhibition, which runs until January 27, says that Lall stands in Lloyd’s photograph “proudly and confidently representative of both his religion and profession”.

In June, Lall attracted international attention when he took part in Trooping the Colour, a 260-year-old ceremony that now celebrates the Queen’s official birthday. The guardsman, who comes from Leicester, was born in Punjab, moved to the UK as a baby and joined the British army in January 2016.

This year when the Colour of the 1st Battalion the Coldstream Guards was trooped, Lall was allowed to wear a black turban alongside his fellow soldiers in their more traditional bearskin hats.

Lall told journalists: “For myself, being the first turban-wearing Sikh to troop the colour and to be part of the escort, it is a really high honour for myself, and hopefully for everyone else as well.”

He added that his mother, father and sister, who were “really, really proud” of him, had come to watch him take part.

“My mum was crying on the day I passed out so I wonder what is going to happen to her when she sees me in this,” he said, indicating his turban with the ceremonial cap star.

https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/portrait-of-uk-sikh-soldier-in-contest/cid/1674150?ref=features_india-page

Sikh Federation UK – UK Kirpan victory: Ministers listen and back Sikh community

Sikh Federation <sikhfederationuk@yahoo.co.uk> to Sikh News Discussion

London UK, 21 November 2018. MPs and Sikh representatives earlier today met with the Home Office Minister, Victoria Atkins responsible for the Offensive Weapons Bill (OWB) to finalise an agreement to legally safeguard the sale, possession and use of large Kirpans.

The delegation was led by Preet Kaur Gill MP, the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Sikhs, and two Vice Chairs, Conservative MP Dominic Grieve and Labour MP Pat McFadden, both former Ministers that played a vital part in securing this victory.

Dabinderjit Singh and Sukhvinder Singh two of the advisers to the Sikh Federation (UK) and prominent in the Sikh Council UK were also part of the delegation.

Following the successful meeting the government itself agreed to table an amendment to the Bill with an appropriate explanatory note specifically referring to the Kirpan. The Bill is currently going through Parliament with the third and final reading in the House of Commons expected to be on 27 November.

When the Sikh Federation (UK) and Sikh Network learnt that the OWB if passed would result in all large Kirpans (defined as those with curved blades over 50cm) being made illegal in terms of sale, possession and use they immediately contacted Preet Kaur Gill MP, the Chair of the APPG for British Sikhs.

Realising the significance of the problem the law change would create for virtually all Sikh families Preet quickly mobilised a cross party group of Conservative, Labour, Scottish National Party and Liberal Democrat MPs to put together an amendment to safeguard the larger Kirpan when the third and final reading was originally expected on 22 October.

Preet and other MPs also met with the Home Office Minister, Victoria Atkins responsible for the Bill and Preet also had a one-to-one meeting with Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary.

Both Ministers were fully supportive of the need for Sikhs to have the large Kirpan and instructed officials to meet the APPG and make changes.

Large Kirpans are used in Anand Karaj ceremonies, in Gatka training and demonstrations, in Nagar Kirtans and other processions, used in Amrit Sanchar ceremonies and displayed in front of Guru Granth Sahib Ji at Gurdwaras and in homes.

If the Offensive Weapons Bill had become law without change the possession of a large Kirpan even at home could have resulted in imprisonment of up to 1 year as well as a fine. It is estimated at least 100,000 Sikh households have one or more large Kirpans at home.

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:

“We applaud Sajid Javid and Victoria Atkins for listening and acting so decisively to safeguard the rights of law abiding Sikhs and appreciating the significance of the large Kirpan to the Sikh way of life.”

“Preet Kaur Gill, Dominic Grieve and Pat McFadden have led the campaign expertly supported by the Sikh Federation (UK) advisers. The APPG has done a fantastic job in getting Home Office Ministers to clarify it was never their intention for the Offensive Weapons legislation to impact on large Kirpans.”

“Home Office officials have come up against the powerful Sikh lobby and will hopefully learn lessons that they must consult early with Sikh organisations. The officials now know large Kirpans are essential to Sikhs for reasons of religious observance and this will be reflected in the explanatory note to the new legislation”.

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)

The Independent – Man who set fire to Sikh temple [Gurdwara] and church in ‘political statement’ is jailed

Paul Johnson said to have ‘issues’ with religion

Edinburgh – Scotland – UK, 16 November 2018. A man who poured petrol on the doors of both a Sikh temple [Gurdwara] and a Methodist church before setting them on fire, has been jailed for four years.

Paul Johnson, was said to have “issues” with religion, set the the entrance of Edinburgh’s Guru Nanak Sikh Temple [Gurdwara] ablaze before moving on to Leith Methodist Church.

Smoke from the fire attack on the Sikh temple [Gurdwara] spewed into the building, endangering people inside, the High Court in Edinburgh heard last month.

He later confessed to the crime, telling police officers he wanted to watch the buildings burn down.

Johnson, 49, admitted two charges of wilful fire-raising, aggravated by religious prejudice, on August 28.

Returning to the court for sentencing this week, judge Lord Boyd described Johnson’s actions as “reckless and wicked”.

He said the defendant appeared to have a “grudge” against religion or religious authority in general, rather than a prejudice against one particular group.

The court had earlier heard that on the evening of 27 August, Johnson bought a container and fuel worth £3.51 from a local petrol station.

A worshipper travelling to the temple [Gurdwara] in the early hours of August 28 saw fire had taken hold on one side of one of the doors.

He raised the alarm and the fire service sent 11 firefighters who brought the blaze under control.

Hours later, the caretaker at Leith Methodist Church noticed a smell of petrol and burning, but found the front door had not been seriously damaged by a fire. He later contacted police after hearing about the incident at the temple.

CCTV footage from the area around the church between 12.03am and 12.13am showed Johnson approaching the church door, before a flash of light appeared.

He returned on two further occasions during that time to light more paper and throw it towards the door before running away.

Asked about his involvement in the two fires, after his arrest he immediately told officers: “I did it,” the court at his first hearing.

Advocate depute Alan Cameron told the court: “The accused was asked as to his motivation for the fires and stated that he was looking to make a political statement, but would not provide further details.

When asked whether this was religiously motivated he stated that he has no issue with any particular religion but his issues are with religion and God in general.”

Sentencing Lord Boyd said: “What is clear is that you seem to have some sort of grudge against religion or religious authority and decided to take it out on two nearby religious buildings.

You told police officers that you were confident that no-one was in the building and that fire officers would not be at risk because of their training. You were of course wrong about people being in the building and your actions did put people at risk.

“It is clear from what I can glean about these offences that they were motivated by a grudge against religion or religious authority in general rather than prejudice or bigotry against any one group. Indeed you appeared unaware of the religious denomination of the buildings themselves.”

Speaking after the hearing, Detective Inspector Grant Johnston, of Gayfield CID in Edinburgh, said: “Paul Johnson showed absolutely no concern for the safety or well-being of those in or around either place of worship when he started these fires.

“As a result of a swift police investigation, Johnson was quickly traced and arrested in connection with the fire and has now been given a custodial sentence.

“We treat all hate crime incidents with the utmost seriousness and whenever such offences occur, we will conduct a thorough inquiry to bring those responsible to justice.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/paul-johnson-fire-sikh-temple-church-edinburgh-jail-latest-a8635981.html

Ilford Recorder – Are you a Redbridge runner? Try marathon training with Sikhs in the City

Redbridge – London – UK, 14 November 2018. Christmas is just around the corner, and that means that Redbridge residents brave enough to run the London Marathon will be throwing themselves into training.

And that means that one of the most active, and surely the fittest, charities in the borough is once again stepping up to help them cross the finish line.

Sikhs in the City, based in Wellesley Road, was awarded charity status on August 21 and is currently running a crowdfunding campaign aiming to raise £400,000 to make a new clubhouse a reality.

The charity’s president Harmander Singh, who has completed more than 100 marathons and ran the London Marathon 34 times, is an official pace maker for the Virgin London Marathon for a fourth consecutive year, and is offering to help Redbridge residents prepare for the race with a series of shorter runs before the big event on 28 April 2019.

And the price of such expert training? Why, just a small donation to the charity’s clubhouse appeal or a Big Mac meal for Harmander himself.

He told the Recorder: “What we really want to do is make sure the people we’re helping get in shape are local, that they’re from Redbridge, because although we run marathons internationally and have members all over the world we are still very much a local charity based in Ilford.”

But he is right to say the charity has a sterling global reputation.

In fact, the club’s sixth annual Dawn to Dusk race on Sunday, December 16, which sees runners complete as many laps of a running course between sunrise and sunset as they can manage, has grown from 82 runners in 2012 to a full complement of 250 runners this year, some coming from as far as Spain and Belgium.

And this Sunday (November 18), the charity will also hold its Peace Marathon, the cheapest marathon to sign up to in the UK, to raise funds for its clubhouse, which will be named after the world’s oldest marathon runner Fauja Singh, a Redbridge resident.

There are still 10 places left for the event, which will start at 10am at the centre.

For more information and to sign up to any events mentioned in this article,
visit
www.sikhsinthecity.org

http://www.ilfordrecorder.co.uk/news/redbridge-runners-sikhs-in-the-city-1-5780169

Sikh24.com – UK MP to rally on parliament in support of Scottish Sikh detained in India

Martin Docherty-Hughes MP’s Communications Officer

Dunbarton – Dunbartonshire – Scotland, 14 November 2018. Martin Docherty-Hughes, MP for West Dunbartonshire, has called on the UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to ‘get serious’ as campaigners prepare to march on parliament in support of a Scot imprisoned in India for the past twelve months.

Jagtar Singh Johal, a 31 year old from Dumbarton, had been married for just two weeks when he was seized by Indian police in Jalandhar City, Punjab in November 2017, an arrest which led to allegations of physical and mental torture in the days that followed.

Since then, his family along with other members of the wider Sikh and Scottish community, have campaigned tirelessly for these allegations to be properly addressed.

Thanks to the campaign, supported Martin Docherty-Hughes and a cross-party group of MPs, the case was raised in a bilateral meeting between the Prime Minister and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in April.

Despite this pressure, the allegations of torture, detailed by the human rights charity REDRESS in a submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, have yet to be addressed.

The family’s MP Martin Docherty-Hughes will host an event in the House of Commons on Wednesday 14 November where supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign will gather in a mass lobby of MPs marking the one year anniversary of Jagtar’s alleged torture.

SNP MP Docherty-Hughes will speak at the rally alongside Jagtar’s family and representatives of REDRESS to call for the UK government to step up its efforts to secure ‘justice for Jaggi’.

Martin Docherty-Hughes MP said:

“Regardless of the accusations against Jagtar his rights to an open and fair judicial process must be protected. But after months of delays and more than 60 pre-trial appearances there has yet to be a single shred of evidence presented against him.

“When I raised my constituent’s case in parliament last year, I was assured by Ministers that the UK government would take ‘extreme action’ in response to the torture and mistreatment of a British citizen.

“Despite these assurances, my constituent and his family have been left frustrated by a lack of interest in Jagtar’s welfare by the UK government and in particular the Foreign Secretary.

“I’m grateful for the broad cross-party support the campaign has received from MPs across the country. It’s now time for the Foreign Secretary to listen and show that the UK government is serious about protecting the rights of its citizens abroad.”

Rupert Skilbeck, Director of Redress, said:

“As time goes on it is increasingly vital that these serious torture allegations are investigated without further delay, and the Indian authorities must ensure that any evidence obtained by torture is not used against Jagtar.”

Gurpreet Singh Johal, Jagtar’s brother, said:

“Whilst the physical torture stopped, the mental torture continues to date. The UK government have also failed Jagtar, although they ‘promised extreme action’ if found that a British citizen had been subject to torture and mistreatment.

The Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has failed to meet the family. It’s becoming more and more evident that it is ‘trade over human rights’.”

https://www.sikh24.com/2018/11/14/uk-mp-to-rally-on-parliament-in-support-of-scottish-detailed-in-india/#.W-xcz-JRfIU

Sikh24.com – UK: Mass Sikh Lobby on November 14 to raise important issues


Sikh24 Editors

London – UK, 12 November 2018. The UK Sikhs are lobbying their MPs to put forward several important issues facing the Sikh community to Prime Minister Theresa May on November 14. Five important key issues have been identified, see the above image.

The Sikh Federation UK is urging Sikhs to inform their MPs and ask them to raise the above issues during November 14 Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs). PMQs is a constitutional convention in the United Kingdom, currently held as a single session every Wednesday at noon when the House of Commons is sitting, during which the Prime Minister spends half an hour answering questions from Members of Parliament.

“There will be a Prime Minister’s Question event at the House of Parliament in Westminster.

We ask all Sikhs to contact parliament switchboard ‭020 7219 3000‬ to inform their MPs and ask them to be present at The Parliamentary Lobby which will take place between 12.00 – 15.00,” Sikh Federation UK states in a press statement.

“During the Parliamentary Lobby, there will be an opportunity where MPs will be questioned on what they have done in regards to Jagtar Singh Johal’s detainment in India and also question the involvement of the Indian government in regards to the raids which took place by West Midlands police at the house of 5 activists involved with the #FreeJaggiNow campaign,” said Jas Singh.

“From 13.00 – 15.00 there will be an event to mark the 1-year detainment of Jaggi taking place in Committee Room 16. During this time there will be speeches from Redress and Martin Docherty Hughes. This will also provide you with an opportunity to ask your MP to join in and show their support for the #FreeJaggiNow campaign,” he added.

https://www.sikh24.com/2018/11/12/uk-mass-sikh-lobby-on-november-14-to-raise-important-issues/#.W-pyYuJRfIU

The Telegraph & Argus – Forgotten heroes of WW I: The Indian Army

Karen Pickering

Bradford – West Yorkshire – UK, 11 November 2018. Never have so many fought for so long, and been recognised by so few, as the Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus who fought with the British from 1914 to 1918.

They came from the villages of British India, in total 1.5 million of the Indian Army, a surprisingly significant number equivalent to around a quarter of the British Army, and more than all the Australian, New Zealand, Canadian, South African and Caribbean troops combined.

Yet in the hundred years since the Armistice with Germany to end the First World War, the Indians have been largely neglected.

Historian George Morton-Jack’s new book, The Indian Empire at War: From Jihad to Victory, the Untold Story of the Indian Army in the First World War, is the first global narrative history of the Indian Army’s part in Allied victory. It tells the personal stories of the brothers Mir Mast and Mir Dast alongside those of Sikh and Hindu soldiers.

The war evoked by the familiar poems, plays, comedies, novels, films or history books, from Wilfred Owen, Journey’s End and Blackadder to Birdsong, War Horse and Niall Ferguson’s The Pity of War, is a white man’s war, characterized by the mud and madness of the western front.

However, the Indians were there too. And they served much more widely – in what are now some fifty countries, fighting a war that was truly global like the Second World War.

In autumn 1914, as the Germans invaded France and Belgium, the Indians under their British officers made up one third of the British Expeditionary Force on the Franco-Belgian border.

At Ypres (Ieper) they saved the Allies from a disastrous defeat, crucially filling gaps in the thin trench line against the year’s last German offensive bidding for a decisive victory in the west.

“Each man was worth his weight in gold,” the British Commander-in-Chief, Sir John French, said of the Indians at Ypres (Ieper), he knew they had arrived in the nick of time, on British Cabinet orders, by ship and rail via Bombay, Karachi, Cairo and Marseille.

Indeed, at Ypres (Ieper) on 31 October 1914 the Indian Army won the first of its eighteen Victoria Crosses of the war, awarded to the 20-year-old Muslim machine gunner Khudadad Khan, from the village of Dub in what is now Pakistan.

From the winter of 1914 to 1917, the Indians continued to fight the German Army on the western front to help liberate occupied France and Belgium.

They also fought the Germans in China and tropical Africa, from what are now Cameroon to Tanzania, in Allied offensives to capture German colonial possessions.

Meanwhile the Indians served across the Middle East against Germany’s Islamic ally, the Ottoman Empire with its Turkish Army.

After initial battles on the Ottoman fringes of Egypt’s Western Desert, the Suez Canal, Gallipoli, Yemen and Iraq’s Basra province, the Indians attacked time and again in Allied advances to capture Baghdad, Fallujah, Ramadi, Gaza and Jerusalem.

“I cannot tell you how magnificent has been the work of the whole force,” Sir Stanley Maude, the commander of the Indian expeditionary force in Iraq, wrote home from Baghdad in April 1917, “the troops have fought like tigers.”

From the Indians’ viewpoint, British service certainly had its rewards. The primary attraction of military service for them as volunteers was dependable wages and pensions, which otherwise they would not have had to help their families survive in the villages of India’s poverty-stricken rural economy.

Yet serving the British also had painful disadvantages. While the ultimate sacrifice was demanded of the Indian troops on the battlefields, approximately 34,000 Indian soldiers were killed, they were colonial subjects and daily humiliated as racial inferiors, sometimes brutally so, denied the rights of the white soldier.

“We were slaves,” as one Sikh veteran, Sujan Singh, put it in old age in his Punjabi village.

The Indian recruits were racially segregated in their camps, ships and railway carriages on the way to the fronts; they had lower pay; they could suffer physical punishments illegal for white troops as inhumane; they could only hold regimental commands permanently inferior to their British officers; they had less home leave; and they had no vote in domestic elections.

Very few of the Indian troops deserted, it was risky with the punishments of lost pay and pension, or even execution by firing squad. Of those who did desert, the bulk were Muslims for whom the war against the Turks as their Islamic brothers was a source of serious moral anguish.

One of them was named Mir Mast, from what is now the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, whose story was quite remarkable.

Mir Mast showed outstanding courage with his regiment on the western front in winter 1914, winning a distinguished service medal for tenacious trench fighting, throwing grenades at German infantry at close quarters.

But in early 1915 he unexpectedly deserted his regiment, going over to the Germans across no man’s land. “When the war broke out with Turkey, I could not bear the news,” he later explained of his decision.

Mir Mast became a prisoner of war in Germany. He was held at a special camp for the Indians south of Berlin, where he promptly changed sides by volunteering to become a secret agent.

Under German officers he embarked on a covert mission to Afghanistan in order to bring the Emir at Kabul into the war against the British. So useful was Mir Mast as a spy in German service that his officer, a Berliner, awarded him a medal for devotion to duty.

This made Mir Mast probably the sole soldier of the First World War to be awarded both a British and a German medal. Mir Mast was in fact not the only prodigy in his family: his older brother Mir Dast was the second Muslim to win the Victoria Cross, at Ypres in April 1915.

By 1918, the Indian Army was a cornerstone of Allied grand strategy for victory over the Germans and Turks, with its men using their bayonets, grenades and machine guns mostly on the killing fields of Palestine and Syria.

As the Armistice of 11 November was signed in France, the Indians became occupiers of conquered enemy lands from the Rhine, Gallipoli and Istanbul to Damascus, Mosul and the Caucasus. Many of them continued to serve overseas with forces of occupation into the 1920s, until the peace treaties with Turkey were finalized.

The importance of remembering the Indians’ part in the war goes beyond the sheer size of the Indian Army’s contribution. British history should be fully inclusive of its Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus of 1914-18, recognizing their sacrifices as much as anyone else’s.

The Indian Empire at War: From Jihad to Victory, the Untold Story of the Indian Army in the First World War (Little,Brown, £25, ebook 12.99), is available at Waterstones, Bradford, or at amazon.co.uk

https://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/tahistory/17213878.forgotten-heroes-of-wwi-the-indian-army/

Huffington Post – A statue unveiled in Birmingham to honour Sikh First World War soldiers has been vandalised

Smethwick – West Midlands – UK, 10 November 2018. A brand new statue of a Sikh soldier, unveiled last week to commemorate the contributions of Sikhs during the First World War, has been vandalised in an incident police say they are treating as a race hate crime.

Graffiti which appeared on the 10ft-high bronze monument displayed the words “Sepoys no more” and a reference to a prominent Sikh military leader killed by the Indian army in 1984.

Sepoys was a term used by the British Indian Army to describe a low-ranking cavalry trooper, many of whom were recruited from the Indian sub-continent to fight for the British in Europe.

The words ‘1 Jarnoil’ (sic) were also scrawled across the monument, thought to be a reference to Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, a militant religious leader killed during Operation Blue Star.

The Indian military intervention was carried out during unrest in the Punjab region in June 1984.

A thick black strike-out line was also drawn over the words ‘Great War’, which appear alongside the Smethwick monument in gold lettering, making the message appear as if it says “the Lions of 1 Jarnail”.

The statue, which stands opposite the Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick on the High Street, was commissioned and paid for by the Gurdwara to honour soldiers from the Indian subcontinent.

It is the first full statue of a South Asian First World War soldier in the UK.

Standing on a 6ft plinth, inscriptions on all four sides include recognition of the centenary of the end of the Great War and the role of Sikhs in the British Army and wider society.

Sikhs made up 20% of the British Indian Army, and 2% of the Indian population at the time and remained loyal to the British Empire after the Indian Mutiny of 1857.

The monument began as an idea from sculptor Luke Perry, after being inspired by his wife’s academic research into World War One and was unveiled on Sunday, November 4.

The incident on Friday took place only days before Remembrance services are due to be held across the country, to honour those who fought for Britain.

A spokesman for Guru Nanak Gurdwara (GNG), which was recently named alongside Stonehenge in Historic England’s list of top ten places of faith and belief, told HuffPost UK: “We are aware of the vandalism that took place on the Lions of the Great War Monument site and condemn this despicable and cowardly act”.

The spokesman said Jatinder Singh, president of Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick, was “extremely disappointed with the actions of the vandals” but remained resolute.

“There was some vandalism to the back wall overnight which is very disappointing. The graffiti was cleaned off and the matter was reported to the police,” 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 mark 100 years since the end of the Great War.”

CCTV footage is currently being reviewed and West Midlands Police said officers were working closely with worshippers and management at the temple.

Sergeant Bill Gill, from the Smethwick Neighbourhood Team, said: “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.

“Officers had already planned to be at the remembrance event which is happening tomorrow at the statue.

“I’d urge anyone with concerns to speak to the officers attending the event.”

Anyone with information can get in touch with the force by calling 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/a-statue-unveiled-in-birmingham-to-honour-sikh-first-world-war-soldiers-has-been-vandalised_uk_5be6c746e4b0769d24cdb00a

The News – Thank you Pakistan for ‘fantastic’ response, British High Commisioner on airlifting Sikh pilgrims

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 06 November 2018. The Pakistan Army airlifted to safety 67 British Sikhs on a pilgrimage in Pakistan during the Asia Bibi protests across the country last week.

The British High Commissioner to Pakistan Thomas Drew shared a video in which Pakistan army personnel can be seen taking the British nationals to a military helicopter to airlift them from a service station.

The British Sikhs on a pilgrimage in Pakistan were stranded at a service station during the protests.

The British High Commissioner also lauded the ‘fantastic response’ from the Pakistani authorities.

He said all the pilgrims left the country safely.

Thomas thanked Pakistan Army and the authorities for the quick response and shifting the Sikh pilgrims to safe place.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/390468-thank-you-pakistan-for-fantastic-response-british-hc-on-airlifting-sikh-pilgrims