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UK: Sikhs upset over desecration of war memorial

June 27, 2008 11:51 IST

The large Sikh community in the west Midlands town of Coventry is outraged after a memorial in honour of Sikh soldiers was desecrated by miscreants, who tied a pig's head to the structure.

The war memorial was put up near a central roundabout by the community in 2005 to honour the 83,000 Sikh soldiers who fought in the British army during the two World Wars.

Local resident Navreet Singh (22), who removed the animal head before taking it to the police, said whoever had tied it to the memorial was 'ignorant' and 'mindless'.

"It is absolutely disgusting. This is a war memorial. It's not a Sikh monument, it is a British one. It seems like someone was trying to attack Muslims. It is ignorance," he said.

The desecration was first noticed by delivery driver Dave Chester, who informed a local newspaper, Coventry Evening Telegraph, about the incident.

Meanwhile, the West Midlands Police in a statement said: 'Police were made aware of an incident on Thursday night involving a pig's head located on a roundabout near to Stoney Stanton Road. Inquiries are ongoing in respect of this issue."

Retired soldiers and community leaders appalled by the recent incident have hit out at the desecration.

Davinder Singh, a member of the Council of Sikh Gurdwaras in Coventry, wants security cameras put up on the roundabout to protect the monument which is considered sacred to the community.

"There have been similar incidents of racism in the area and I feel our community is not getting the support we need. There should be a proper system to handle acts of vandalism."

"The fact that this is happening on a war memorial is offensive to Britain because these soldiers died for Britain. It goes to show the level of immaturity in Coventry," Singh said.

Darshan Singh Jheeta, secretary of the Ramgarhia Gurdwara, who attended the opening ceremony of the memorial, said: "This act doesn't help anybody and whoever did it is just trying to make trouble."

War veteran Bob Callow, who fought with Sikh soldiers in Burma and is a member of the Burma Star Association in Coventry, said he was also outraged at the 'desecration'.

He said: "They are ignorant vandals who have no idea about the history of our country. To have a pig's head on the memorial proves they don't know about Sikh customs.

"The Sikh soldiers should be respected -- if it wasn't for them we wouldn't have won the war -- they were our comrades. It's insulting to all of us and forgivable."

Prasun Sonwalkar in London
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