Statue of Sikh soldier to mark World War sacrifice vandalised less than a week after it was unveiled

<em>Vandalised – the memorial in Smethwick, Birmingham, has been vandalised less than a week after it was unveiled (Picture: SWNS)</em>
Vandalised – the memorial in Smethwick, Birmingham, has been vandalised less than a week after it was unveiled (Picture: SWNS)

A war memorial honouring soldiers from the Indian subcontinent who fought in both the First and Second World Wars has been vandalised less than a week after it was unveiled.

Lions of the Great War, featuring a statue of a Sikh soldier, was daubed with graffiti just days after it was unveiled in Smethwick, Birmingham, to mark the centenary of the Armistice.

The 10ft-high bronze statue was commissioned by Sikh temple Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick to mark the sacrifices made by South Asian servicemen of all faiths.

It was unveiled on November 4 but by Friday night (November 9) had been daubed with the words “Sepoys no more” while the words “of the Great War” from the statue’s title had been sprayed with a black line.

The term “sepoy” refers to Indian soldiers serving in the British or other European armies.

I<em>nvestigation – Police are looking into the vandalism, which is being treated as aggravated criminal damage (Picture: SWNS)</em>
Investigation – Police are looking into the vandalism, which is being treated as aggravated criminal damage (Picture: SWNS)

The words “1 jarnoil” had also been daubed on to the memorial, which some speculated on social media could refer to Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale – a controversial figure in Indian history considered by some to be a terrorist who wanted to create a Sikh state.

West Midlands Police said they are treating the incident as aggravated criminal damage.

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The force said CCTV is being recovered and officers are working with worshippers and management at the temple.

Sergeant Bill Gill, from the Smethwick Neighbourhood Team, said: “We understand that this attack has caused a lot of concern in the community, and we are working to understand the reasons behind it and identify whoever is responsible.

He said: “Officers had already planned to be at the remembrance event which is happening tomorrow at the statue.

“I’d urge anyone with concerns to speak to the officers attending the event.”

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