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Manchester attack: Act against supporters, apologists of terror, says India

British and Indian authorities gathered in the east Midlands city of Leicester on Thursday to pay homage to members of the Indian Labour Corps.

world Updated: May 25, 2017 22:58 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hundreds of Leicester children with names of members of Indian Labour Corps.
Hundreds of Leicester children with names of members of Indian Labour Corps.(HT Photo)

The Manchester attack and a little known war memorial designed by architect Edwin Lutyens formed a poignant backdrop as British and Indian authorities gathered in the east Midlands city of Leicester on Thursday to pay homage to members of the Indian Labour Corps.

The memorial in the sylvan Victoria Park is similar to the Lutyens-designed India Gate in New Delhi, where a similar event was held to recall the contribution of the “unremembered” members of the corps who played a key role in World War One.

Indian high commissioner YK Sinha addressing the gathering in Victoria Park, Leicester, on Thursday. (HT photo)

Lutyens (1869-1944) designed the capital of independent India, and also several monuments in Britain. Called the “Arch of Remembrance”, his Leicester monument is a tribute to 12,000 men from Leicestershire who died in World War One. 

Marking the centenary of the labour corps this year, Indian high commissioner YK Sinha laid a marigold wreath sourced from New Delhi at the memorial, recalled the contribution of Indians in the war, and mentioned the Manchester terror attack to call for coordinated action against terrorism in all its forms.

Leicester mayor Peter Soulsby (second from left), Leicester lord mayor Rashmikant Joshi (third from left) with Indian high commissioner Y K Sinha (second from right) and children carrying names of members of the Indian Labour Corps. (HT photo)

“The world needs to act not only against terrorists but also against its supporters, harbourers and apologists,” he said at the event attended by Leicester mayor Peter Soulsby, lord mayor Rashmikant Joshi, and hundreds of children from local schools.

The children held sheets of paper with names of 1,174 members of the corps, which are also inscribed in the India Gate memorial in New Delhi.

Indian high commissioner YK Sinha addressing the gathering in Victoria Park, Leicester, on Thursday. (HT photo)

The event was part of a community engagement project called The Unremembered: World War One’s Army of Workers funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government to discover the history of the labour corps in World War One.   

Indians were among thousands of workers who supported the war effort from around the world. Many faced racism and discrimination. They served with courage but they have been almost completely forgotten and are thus called “The Unremembered”.

Sinha joined the project to mark the contribution of the corps, and has funded the production of a new resource pack, The Unremembered: The Indian Story, focused on India’s army of workers.

The Indian Labour Corps served in France and Flanders, on the North West Frontier, in Salonika, East Africa, Persia, Egypt and Mesopotamia. More than 11,000 are listed in the Basra archive.