Skip to comments.57 years late, UK honours its Indian war heroes
Posted on 11/06/2002 10:51:34 AM PST by psywarrior
LONDON: Fifty-seven years late and after 2.5 million Indian soldiers gallantly served, bled and died for the King and the Empire during the Second World War, the British Queen is finally honouring their sacrifice in stone and reminding the former Raj of its 'forgotten' heroes.
But the controversy continues about whether Britain can really be reminded about something it never knew or wanted to know.
This includes the heroism of 'greats' the average British schoolchild still knows nothing about, including Subedar Khudadad Khan, the first Indian holder of the Victoria Cross and RAF Squadron Leader Mahinder Singh Pujji, one of the few Asian holders of a Distinguished Flying Cross.
In an extraordinary act of remembrance, the Queen is unveiling palely-gleaming Memorial Gates in the heart of the British capital, with the names India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Africa, Caribbean and Kingdom of Nepal carved into the sides.
Indian war veterans say it is the final act in a battle to inform Britain that for its future, they gave their past.
The Indian high commissioner, along with other diplomats from the former Raj, are attending, but India notably has been unable to despatch the cavalry officers requested for the pomp and show of the ceremonial.
Sources say the absence of the smartly-turned out Indian cavalrymen was merely a logistical mix-up and that the Indian government had always been supportive of the British act of remembrance for its Indian dead.
The Indian-born-and-bred British peer, Baroness Sheila Flather, who campaigned in military style for the Memorial Gates, says it is a long overdue acknowledgement.
Flather, who raised nearly three-million pounds to build the Gates, believes the contribution of millions of soldiers from Africa, the Caribbean and the Indian subcontinent has "somehow been erased from the memory of people here. We need to inform the young ethnic minority children about this contribution. We need to inform everybody else as well".
A spokesman for the Indian High Commission said it was true "that the mother country (Britain) forgot and this is long overdue, which is why it is such a worthy initiative".