It is believed graffiti was smeared across the ten foot bronze statue on Thursday night. Vandalism of the new Lions of the Great War monument in Smethwick has been criticized by a leading Sikh as ‘a despicable and cowardly act’. Graffiti has been removed and CCTV images are being investigated.

The statue was only unveiled last Sunday, November 4th – a week before the Day of National Remembrance services to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One at 11am on Sunday, November 11th 2018.

Sikhs had fought alongside the British Indian Army and made up 20 per cent of the Army, and two per cent of the Indian population at the time.

It stands outside the Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Smethwick, which had commissioned it to acknowledge soldiers of all faiths from the Indian subcontinent who fought for Britain in both world wars.

The statue is close to the Smethwick Rolfe Street Station and sits on a six foot granite plinth between High Street and Tollhouse Way.

The words ‘Sepoys no more’ were added while a thick black line was drawn through the words ‘Great War’.

The word Sepoy was a term used in the British Indian Army for a soldier.

The graffiti has since been removed but West Midlands Police is treating the vandalism as criminal damage.

Guru Nanak Gurdwara president Jatinder Singh said he was ‘extremely disappointed’ but ‘remained resolute’.

In a statement, Mr Singh said: “There was some vandalism to the back wall overnight which is disappointing.

“The graffiti was cleaned off and the matter reported to the police.

“Working with the council, we won’t allow this vandalism to undermine the very strong message created by this new monument and the overwhelmingly positive reaction to its unveiling.

“What makes this incident particularly distressing, is the complete disregard and lack of respect for the significance of the statue and inscriptions installed recently to commemorate the losses felt by many South Asian families who lost their dear ones during the First World War and to mark 100 years since the end of the Great War.”

GNG Smethwick was recently named alongside Stonehenge in Historic England’s list of top ten places of faith and belief.

It is assessing the CCTV ready to ‘take the necessary action’ and said it would advise anyone who witnesses vandalism or any other anti-social behaviour taking place to report any incidents to police as soon as possible using 101.


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