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UK town to install statue to honour Indian soldiers

world Updated: Apr 06, 2010 13:25 IST
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Moves are afoot to install a statue in a prominent location in the East Midlands town of Leicester to honour the contribution of Indian soldiers to the British Army during the First and Second World Wars.

A committee, called the Leicester United Group's War Memorial Committee, set up in 2009 to decide how the statue would look and where it would be placed, has identified the Peace Walk in Victoria Park in the town.

Local Indian-origin councillor Culdipp Singh Bhatti, who is a member of the committee, has a personal interest in the statue – his father-in-law, Captain Chajja Singh Kler, joined the British Indian Army at 16 and retired at 52.

Bhatti said, "There are lessons to be learnt about fighting together against ideas which threaten the way you live your life and I think it's important to get those across with the statue. We thought an appropriate location would be Peace Walk, near the current memorial, this would also show unity and the fact that everybody fought together."

Committee secretary Raj Mann, whose two great-grandfathers fought for the British Indian Army, said, "I am pleased one of the main aims of the project is to educate our youth about the collective international sacrifice in the Great Wars".

Leicestershire county manager for the British Legion Richard Foster said, "As far as the Royal British Legion is concerned we give them our full support. Anyone who fights and dies for our country deserves to be honoured, our debt of gratitude is owed to everyone who fought for us."

Created in 1859, the British Indian Army existed until Indian Independence in 1947. The committee plans to ask Design students at local universities to draw up designs, which will be presented to Leicester City Council.

Committee spokesman John Coster said an important aspect of the memorial was including local people and materials. He said, "It's about celebrating our diverse city and showing the communities that live here have earned the right to call it home".