Back in 2007, there was wide debate in the UK for a British Sikh regiment. However, after fierce debate the Defense Chiefs of the country stated it would be “racist” to have a Sikh regiment. However, supporters of the British Sikh regiment claimed if a Gorkha Regiment of Nepali soldiers can be be allowed then why not Sikhs for a Sikh regiment?
The support for the Sikh regiment was so strong that even Prince Charles supported the idea of revising the Sikh martial tradition in the UK in the form of a regiment like the one during the world wars.
The commission of Racial Equality ruled stated: “We would not support any policy that seeks to isolate specific groups in the Armed Forces or wider society.”The creation of a separate regiment according to ethnicity would be segregation, which amounts to discrimination under the Race Relations Act. Anything that creates separation between regiments can only have a detrimental effect upon our Armed Forces’ operational effectiveness.”
The Ministry of Defense immediately dropped the plans after the recommendation by the Commission. The commission went on to say that the Sikh regiment would amount to “segregation” and that it would be against racial laws of the UK.
Sikh leaders, recruiting officers, and politicians expressed outrage but all went in vain.
The proposal was to create a volunteer based 700 strong regiment and eventually building it up to 3,000 soldiers.
The Sikhs argued the regiment would be no different then the existing Scots, Welsh, Irish Guards or the Royal Gurkha Rifles, which recruits from Nepal.
Kuljit Singh Gulati stated “The Sikhs have a long and distinguished heritage of serving with the British Army.
“I know there are many, many Sikhs who would join up and would serve wherever required. But if you want to get them in large numbers they need their own regiment, something they would take a huge amount of pride in.
“They would regard it as very prestigious. It is a shame that it now looks as though it will never happen.”
Senior army officers became disappointed at a chance for the historic Sikh regiment to make a come back. One officer stated: “The MoD has missed a golden opportunity in not tapping into the Sikh community’s desire to form a regiment. It’s nonsense to suggest this would amount to segregation and since when did the CRE dictate Britain’s defence -policy?”
This is a tribute to the Sikhs who served in the World Wars.
The Sikh contributed over a 138,000 men to the battle fields of Europe during the 1st World War, by far the largest contribution of any of the nations that made up the British Empire/commonwealth. Ditto the 2nd WW. As on both occasions Sikh’s were the majority of those who
We salute all those who sacrificed themselves fighting against injustice and for freedom: