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Plans unveiled for Glasgow memorial to south Asian war heroes

 

A city charity has lodged the application, which has been backed by city politicians.

Plans have been unveiled for a permanent memorial in Glasgow to commemorate four million south Asian soldiers who fought alongside British troops in both world wars.

New images of the proposed memorial in the grounds of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum have been published following a planning application to the city council.

As the country commemorates the fallen, campaigners are urging the council to ensure there is a lasting reminder of the service and sacrifice of the British Indian Army (BIA).

The application has been lodged by the charity Colourful Heritage, which is seeking greater recognition for the Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and others from a range of nations who fought in the two world wars, with more than 160,000 of them losing their lives.

Scotland has a special connection with the BIA through a mainly Indian Muslim contingent from the Punjab called ‘Force K6’, which was a mule transport corps during the Second World War. 

Fourteen soldiers from Force K6 died in Scotland while training in harsh conditions with British troops, after being evacuated from Dunkirk. Nine of them are buried at Kingussie Cemetery.

Omar Shaikh, founder of the charity Colourful Heritage, said: “Remembrance unites people of all faiths and backgrounds, and as we come together to commemorate the fallen, we must never forget the service and sacrifice of those from overseas who answered Britain’s call.

“Glasgow has a historic opportunity to lead the way by building Scotland’s first permanent memorial to the soldiers from British India.

“There is strong support from civic Scotland for this, and we urge the council to swiftly approve the application.

“The memorial will serve as a lasting reminder of the contribution of all those who fought in the world wars and show people in Scotland from different ethnicities that they can be proud of their role in our country’s shared history which can further their sense of belonging.”

Glasgow’s SNP Lord Provost, Jacqueline McLaren, the head of museums and collections at Glasgow Life, Duncan Dornan, and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar are among those backing the plan.

A community consultation on plans for a permanent memorial in Glasgow found an overwhelmingly positive response to the proposal, and the final design adopts ideas sent in by more than 100 school pupils and youngsters.

It is proposed the memorial includes a Chattri design for the roof and Locharbriggs sandstone columns which match the Kelvingrove architecture which will be engraved representing all faiths and none, interactive memorial information slabs, along with park benches and cherry trees.

In a letter of support, Lord Provost Jacqueline McLaren wrote: “Hearing that there is no permanent memorial in Scotland to commemorate the British Indian forces is disappointing and something that must be rectified.

“We must work together to ensure that we can have Scotland’s first permanent memorial wall to recognise the service and sacrifice of over 4million soldiers of the British Indian Army...

“I understand there has been much effort and discussion around this proposal and I give my full support and commitment where we can to this initiative of having this permanent memorial here in Glasgow.”

It has been suggested that an inscription is included in multiple languages with the words ‘We're a' Jock Tamson's bairns’.

Architect Stuart Shand, from Shand Architecture, is behind the design.

Duncan Dornan, head of museums and collections at Glasgow Life, wrote: “It is astonishing that this contribution [of the BIA] and the sacrifices associated with it had only been recognised for the first time in 2017, by the laying of a wreath on Remembrance Day at George Square by Colourful Heritage. 

“Therefore, this more permanent recognition to commemorate the forgotten service and sacrifice of the BIA is entirely appropriate.”

Anas Sarwar, MSP for Glasgow and Scottish Labour leader, added: “This permanent memorial to the soldiers of the BIA in Glasgow is a fitting way to commemorate their forgotten service and sacrifice.

“As the first of its kind in Glasgow and in Scotland, this memorial will show today’s generation of young people – from all backgrounds – that we have a shared past, and will present learning opportunities to build on for the future.”

 

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