TRIBUTES were paid to Sikhs who have fought alongside the British armed forces at a community event attended by prominent members of the British Sikh community at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst earlier this month.
The chief of general staff, General Sir Nick Carter, praised the contribution of Sikh soldiers in both world wars and said they had left a legacy of their bravery in British history.
Guests from the British Sikh Association heard from Earl Howe, minister of state for defence; deputy high commissioner of India Dr Virander Paul; minister at the home office Richard Harrington; curator at the National Army Museum Jasdeep Singh and Dr Rami Ranger, chairman of the British Sikh Association.
Earl Howe said Sikhs were an asset to the armed forces and spoke of the challenge prime minister David Cameron had set – that by 2020, at least 10 per cent of the armed forces recruits should come from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities.
Dr Ranger CBE, said: “It is an honour and privilege for me to be speaking from the Indian Army Memorial Room at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. A place from where illustrious soldiers are trained to defend our way of life at any cost to themselves”.
He recalled the common military history between the Sikhs and the British, “sym- bolising our loyalty towards each other and above all, for king and country”.
Dr Ranger spoke of the numerous battles the Sikh soldiers had fought, including the battle of Saragarhi where just 21 brave Sikh soldiers made a stand and defended a British post against 10,000 Afghan tribesmen. The Sikh soldiers died, fighting with valour waiting for reinforcements to arrive.
He also called for a Sikh Regiment in the British Army and said that though it would be called the Sikh Regiment, it should be open for anyone wishing to join regardless of race or religion, in order to inspire people from all back- grounds in line with the Sikh doctrine of equality for all and fighting for the oppressed.
“A Sikh regiment would raise the profile of the Sikhs in Britain and would stop attacks on them as a result of mistaken identity,” Dr Ranger said.