15 members of the Sikh community pledge £25,000 each to raise £375,000 towards the memorial at parliament event.
A campaign to create a Sikh World War memorial in a central London location saw cross-party support in parliament yesterday evening.
The campaign, being led by Slough MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, the first ever turbaned Sikh in European parliamentary history, was launched with the support of various Sikh community groups, along with the likes of Vince Cable (Liberal Democrats leader), Jeremy Corbyn (Labour Party leader), Sajid Javid (Conservative government Communities Secretary), John Bercow (Speaker of the House of Commons) and many other senior parliamentarians.
Tanmanjeet Singh said of the launch, ‘I am absolutely thrilled to have hosted a historical gathering of cross party MPs, Lords, the Mayor of London, community representatives and social activists in the Houses of Parliament this evening.’
It is often suggested that the fact 83,000 Sikhs died fighting in the British Armed Forces is little-known amongst the British public, with this being a key thought in the need for a Sikh war memorial, something echoed by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who feels the best place for the memorial is in the capital.
‘What is important is a national memorial to commemorate the contribution made by Sikh soldiers is in our capital city. It is a huge boon for the campaign and we should be very proud we have cross-party support from politicians across the country for this, making the memorial more likely to happen’ said Sadiq Khan.
During the launch Tanmanjeet Singh spoke of the bullying many Sikh children face because of their often distinct appearance in wearing a patka (Sikh head covering) or dastaar (Sikh turban), suggesting a Sikh war monument will help ‘integration’.
‘Hopefully with the announced active support of the Government, the Mayor of London and the local authorities, we will in the very near future have a permanent national monument in a befitting central London location. It would have huge additional benefits for community cohesion and integration within our country.’
The launch saw 15 members of the Sikh community pledge £25,000 each to raise £375,000 towards an expected figure of £500,000 needed for the memorial. Funders included Gurmail Singh Malhi, head of Sri Guru Singh Sabha Southall Gurdwara committee, Indian businessman Rami Ranger, and many others.
For more information on the campaign follow @SikhWarMemorial on Twitter.