To commemorate the fallen heroes of the Battle of Saragarhi, the UK unveiled a life-size bronze statue of Havilder Ishar Singh at Guru Nanak Gurdwara at Wednesfield, a suburb of Wolverhampton, on the battle’s 124th anniversary on September 12.
The Saragarhi Day is celebrated by the Indian Army’s 4th battalion of the Sikh regiment every year on September 12. In the battle, 21 soldiers of the Sikh regiment of the British Indian Army fought against thousands of Afghan tribesman in 1897.
The 10-feet-tall bronze statue of Havilder Ishar Singh has been installed atop a six-feet plinth with the names of all martyrs inscribed on it.
The unveiling of the monument was attended by Jathedar of the Akal Takht Harpreet Singh, who flew from India to attend the event, members of the British Army, Saragarhi expert Dr Gurunderpal Singh Josan and three descendants of the Saragarhi soldiers.
Members of the congregation undertook £100,000 fundraising programme for the monument, with donations made by the temple and the project supported by the community. City of Wolverhampton Council also contributed £35,000 towards the memorial after it agreed to transfer the land to the Gurdwara on a 99-year lease.
Councillor Bhupinder Gakhal, Cabinet Member for City Assets and Housing, at City of Wolverhampton Council, and ward member for Wednesfield South, worked closely with Gurdwara to develop plans for the memorial.
“This is a truly historic moment and one that will live in the memory of the many people who attended today… I hope this wonderful memorial will encourage more people to learn about what happened and about the brotherhood and the sense of loyalty shared by those men who fought to the end,” said Gakhal.
“Our Saragarhi Memorial will be very important to a very large number of people in Wednesfield, in Wolverhampton and across the world.”
The battle of Saragarhi was fought on September 12, 1897 by the 21 soldiers of the 36th Sikh Regiment of the British Indian Army against 10,000 Afghans in the Samana Valley of the Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which was then part of India. The soldiers inside the outpost, led by Havildar Ishar Singh, chose to fight to death than surrender. Another, Khuda Dhad, believed to be a Muslim cook and handyman, who was not enrolled as a solider but was employed by the British Army, also died after choosing to join the battle to defend the outpost.