Event to commemorate role of Indian soldiers

A new multi-faith event in Brighton to commemorate the role of soldiers from pre-partition India has been unanimously backed by councillors.

It will take place at the India Gate in the city’s Royal Pavilion Gardens in October.

Councillors have voted to set up a committee of community leaders to oversee the event, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Labour councillor Birgit Miller, who proposed the event, said: “It is very important for the city and it’s very important for the country that we recognise all Commonwealth soldiers.”

Ms Miller said she wanted to recognise the role of soldiers from undivided India, before the 1947 partition, and from the wider region during the First and Second World Wars.

British India won its independence from the British in August 1947, splitting into two new states that would rule themselves. The new countries were India and Pakistan. East Pakistan has since become Bangladesh.

Green councillor Raphael Hill described the commemoration as a “good use” of council time to bring people together at a time of division.

The India Gate was a gift to the city from the “princes and people of India” and was unveiled by the Maharajah of Patiala in 1921.

During World War One, 1.5 million soldiers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) fought in the trenches.

In 1914, Bangladesh, India, Myanmar and Pakistan were all called India.

About 12,000 of those soldiers were given hospital treatment in Brighton – more than 4,000 of them at the Royal Pavilion.

During World War Two, more than 2.5 million men from undivided India volunteered to serve in the British Indian army.

Consultation is expected to involve local armed forces personnel, the Undivided India Ex-Services Association, Davinder Dhillon, who organises the annual Chattri remembrance service, and the wider South Asian community.

The proposed multi-faith element is intended to recognise and involve the diverse religious communities from the subcontinent.

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