244 British MPs sign motion to support memorial for Sikh soldiers in London

Under parliamentary rules, early day motions are formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons. They allow MPs to draw attention to an event or cause and MPs register their support by signing individual motions.

punjab Updated: Dec 27, 2017 00:05 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
British parliament,Sikh Soldiers,Sadiq Khan
The demand for the memorial was first made in a publication called the ‘Sikh Manifesto’ before the 2015 general election.(AP File Photo)

Over 240 MPs have signed an early day motion in the House of Commons, expressing support to a memorial for the thousands of Sikh soldiers who died or were injured during the two World Wars while fighting for the British armed forces.

Initiated by Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, the motion has been signed by 244 MPs from across the political spectrum – the largest for any such motion in the current parliament. It is also supported by the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs.

The demand for the memorial was first made in a publication called the ‘Sikh Manifesto’ before the 2015 general election. It was furthered by Sadiq Khan during his election for London mayor and his recent visit to Amritsar.

He reportedly said during his visit to the Golden temple: “Britain and the world owe a huge debt to the Sikh servicemen and women who fought alongside British troops during the First and Second World Wars.”

“These brave individuals sacrificed an enormous amount to defend the freedoms that we enjoy today and it is only right that there is a memorial in our capital city to honour the Sikhs who fought to preserve our freedoms.”

Narinderjit Singh, general secretary of campaign group Sikh Federation (UK) said in a statement: “In 2015 virtually all candidates standing in the election from all political parties backed the need for a permanent monument to highlight Sikh sacrifices in the First World War.”

“Ideally the exact site needs to be determined before the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War,” he said.

The early day motion says: “That this House appreciates the extraordinary bravery and sacrifices of Sikh soldiers in service of Great Britain, including during both World Wars, and supports the erection of a permanent national monument in a prime central London location to commemorate and highlight these contributions.”

It also notes that for over a decade there has been a demand from various quarters for the installation of such a national monument and welcomes the recent statement by the Mayor of London, who said it is only right that these brave individuals should have a memorial in our capital city.

The motion also says, “Though Sikhs made up only two per cent of the population of British India, they formed 20 per cent of the British Indian Army during the First World War, and that hundreds of thousands of Sikh soldiers saw active service during the two major wars and many other conflicts.”

It further notes that more than 83,000 turbaned Sikh soldiers laid down their lives and more than 100,000 were injured during the World Wars; and calls on the government to actively support a memorial dedicated to those who made or were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom of our country.

Under parliamentary rules, early day motions are formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons. However, very few are actually debated. They allow MPs to draw attention to an event or cause and MPs register their support by signing individual motions.

First Published: Dec 26, 2017 21:52 IST