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Hours after World War I tribute, War memorial intended to honour Sikh soldiers vandalised in UK

Just a few days after unveiling the 10 feet tall, bronze statue of a Sikh soldier in Smethwick, Birmingham, it has been vandalized and inscribed with controversial messages.

Inaugurated on November 4 on public land outside Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Smethwick, it was funded by the gurdwara’s congregation. However, the sculpture had been sprayed with the words “Sepoys no more” on Friday night. The phrase “of the great war” from ‘Lions of the great war’ had been scratched with a black line and were replaced with the words “1 jarnoil”.

‘Sepoy’ refers to the Indian soldiers who have served in British or European armies.

The statue, known as the ‘Lions of the Great War’ was unveiled in UK last week, to commemorate the lives of Sikh soldiers who were a part of the British infantry and their contribution to World War One that happened a century ago. The aim was to honour personnel from all faiths from the Indian subcontinent who fought for Britain during the war.

Condemning the vandalism, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has called for strict action against the culprits of the racial attack. “The vandalism of the 10-foot-high statue, depicting a Sikh soldier of the 15th Sikh battalion, symbolic of the contribution of South Asian soldiers to World War I, was outrageous,” the chief minister said in a statement while expressing serious concern and distress over the incident.

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