AMRITSAR: Administrative delays and fund crunch have led to the postponement of installation of a 12-tonne bronze statue constructed in the memory of the unsung Indian heroes of World War-I. The statue was to be unveiled on November 11 in France.
The statue, constructed by Inter-Faith Shaheedi Commemoration Association (IFSC), was to be installed near Neuve Chapelle Memorial on the outskirts of Richebourg, 245km from Paris.
Talking to TOI, IFSC president Ramesh Chander Vohra said, “The statue was expected to be unveiled on November 11, but was delayed due to long administrative procedures. We are also facing a shortage of funds.”
Constructed in Haridwar, the 3.8x12m bronze statue was one of its kind that depicted British Indian soldiers from all faiths on a single platform, said Vohra. “Besides administrative delays, there is also some shortage of funds. For the moment, I am using my pension and personal funds to keep the project afloat,” he said.
However, he said to celebrate the Armistice Day when the war ended in 1918 and to commutate the World War-I, about the seven-foot bronze statue, was unveiled by Jean-Philippe Boonaert, mayor of Laventie.
India’s role in the First War has always been downplayed and under-documented for a number of reasons. India did not gain freedom till the Second Great War making the First a distant memory. Since there was no Indian nation yet, any forces sent from the subcontinent tended to be Empire soldiers or soldiers of princely states – both notions making them somewhat less than Indian for later commentators.
The First World War is a relatively unnoticed event in an otherwise historic timeline of Indian events. This colossal effort in the most difficult circumstance is not entirely forgotten nor actively remembered and needs to be portrayed in the correct perspective globally and in India.
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