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Project gets underway for Glasgow memorial to south Asian war heroes


The project follows a long-standing campaign by Scottish charities. 

A project is underway to build Scotland’s first permanent memorial to commemorate the sacrifices and contributions of South Asian soldiers who fought alongside British troops in the world wars.

Veterans Secretary Keith Brown today said it will play a vital role in “raising awareness of past conflicts and the invaluable contributions” of the 4 million soldiers from the British Indian Army (BIA).

In the 75th anniversary year of independence for both Pakistan and India, the Glasgow memorial comes after a six-year campaign by the charity Colourful Heritage which involved consultation, community engagement and multiple follow-ups with Glasgow City Council.

It now has planning permission to be built in the grounds of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and will include a chattri (dome) design for the roof and natural stone columns to match the museum’s famous architecture.

The final design adopts ideas sent in by more than 100 young people from across Scotland, and will have a digital aspect to engage younger generations as part of education visits.

A project team has been established to oversee the building of the memorial, and architect Stuart Shand has started to procure the materials.

Veterans Secretary Keith Brown MSP said: “The people of Scotland owe a considerable debt of gratitude to those who fought and died on our behalf, including those from Commonwealth nations who came to aid this country during its time of need. 

“The bravery and commitment of the British Indian Army was vital in defending the freedoms we enjoy today and deserves recognition. 

“This memorial plays a vital role in raising awareness of past conflicts and the invaluable contributions of the British Indian Army.

“I am delighted that through the work of Colourful Heritage and their memorial working group that these links are being acknowledged and forever more remembered.”

Colourful Heritage has been 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, with nine of them laid to rest at Kingussie Cemetery.

Omar Shaikh, founder of the charity Colourful Heritage, said: “This memorial will ensure that for centuries to come we never forget the service and sacrifice of those from overseas who answered Britain’s call. 

“But the memorial for us is not the target, it is a means to an end… that end is to ensure that everyone in Scotland and Europe understands the contribution of BIA towards protecting this country and understands the shared values between the soldiers that were on the front line, be they from Europe or south Asia."



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