Sydney's Blacktown City Council has approved the establishment of a war memorial commemorating the contributions and sacrifices made by the Sikh soldiers in epochal moments of military history, including World War I & II, Gallipoli, and Saragarhi.
The statue of a Sikh soldier representative of the valour of the Sikh troops will stand tall in Glenwood in Sydney's northwest, home to a large number of migrants of Indian heritage.
Amarinder Bajwa, the founder of Fateh Foundation, who has spearheaded the initiative in conjunction with the Blacktown City Council, told SBS Punjabi that the community would privately fund the project.
- Western Sydney will be home to a war memorial honouring the contributions of Sikh soldiers
- The war memorial will feature a sculpture of a Sikh soldier in military uniform
- The crowdfunded project is expected to be completed by April 2022
Mr Bajwa said the war memorial dedicated to the memory and bravery of Sikh soldiers would feature bronze or a gunmetal statue of a Sikh soldier in uniform.
He added that the design of the sculpture is yet to be finalised.
"We have consulted a team of historians, Professor Peter Stanley and Mr Harchand Singh from Malaysia, for their valuable inputs. In addition, we are in talks with sculptors from Australia, India and Pakistan to commission this statue," Mr Bajwa said.
Contribution of Sikh troops
The association of the Sikhs with the Australian Army can be traced as far back as 1885 when soldiers from the British Indian Army’s Sikh Regiment fought shoulder to shoulder with the Australian troops in Sudan during their first overseas military expedition.
Despite the Sikhs having served and bravely fought for the British Imperial Army, they were denied entry into the permanent force in Australia in 1888.
During the World War I, many Sikhs paid the ultimate sacrifice on Gallipoli, including 80 per cent of the soldiers of a single Sikh battalion.
At least 19 Sikhs enlisted and fought WWI as ANZACs, with at least one of those losing their life fighting in faraway lands under the Australian flag.
Talking about the sacrifices made by the Sikh troops, Mr Bajwa said: "As part of the British Allied Forces, these men sacrificed their lives in the wars that were not theirs, leaving behind grieving families and orphans."
"We cherish the memory of their heroic deeds that ensured the future of the next generations was bright by defending lands far and near.
"The memorial will recognise their great sacrifices throughout history and will remind us of the legacy that they left behind", said Mr Bajwa," he added.
A board member of the multicultural communities council of NSW, Mr Bajwa expressed his gratitude to Mayor Tony Bleasdale, Councillor Julie Griffiths, Councillor Moninder Singh, and those who supported the initiative.
Click on the player at the top of the page to listen to the full interview with Amarinder Singh Bajwa.