Statue commemorating vandalized Indian soldiers

A war memorial depicting a statue of a Sikh soldier was the subject of vandalism less than a week after its inauguration.

Lions of the Great War in Smethwick, Birmingham, received the task of honoring the many of the Indian subcontinent that fought both in the first and second world war.

The 10-foot tall bronze statue was inaugurated on November 4 – a week before the centenary of the armistice – but on Friday evening it was sprayed with the words "Sepoys no more".

The memorial was commissioned by the Sikh temple Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick to celebrate the sacrifices made by soldiers from South Asia of all faiths.

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

The words "of the Great War" from the title of the statue had been sprayed with a black line, while the words "1 jarnoil" had been written on the memorial.

There was speculation on social media that the phrase 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.

He was killed in 1984 in a shootout with the Indian army after his organization occupied the famous Gold Temple complex in the city of Amritsar.

The West Midlands police said they are treating the incident as an aggravated criminal injury.

The force said that CCTV is being recovered and the officers are working with the faithful and the direction of the temple.

Sergeant Bill Gill of Smethwick's team said, "We understand that this attack has caused much concern in the community, and we are working to understand the underlying reasons and identify who is responsible.

"The agents had already planned to participate in the memorial event that is happening tomorrow at the statue.

"I would invite anyone who has doubts to speak with the officers who will participate in the event."

Anyone who has received any information is invited to contact the West Midlands Police or call the Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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