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UK legislators mull creating new Sikh regiment

British legislators are examining proposals to create a new British Sikh regiment like those which fought for the country in the two World Wars, according to media reports on Tuesday.

Former defence minister Nicholas Soames said in parliament on Monday that the government should “do away with political correctness”, and praised “the extraordinary gallant and distinguished service by (the) Sikhs, to this country down the generations”, according to a Daily Mail report.

Tory legislator and chairman of the defence select committee, Rory Stewart, asked armed forces minister Mark Francois to look at a Sikh company within the reserves “as a starting point”.

Francois said he believed the plan, which was dropped by the ministry of defence in 2007 for fear of being branded racist, “may well have merit”. Stewart went on to reveal that the suggestion was being “looked at”, saying the proposed regiment would inherit many “proud traditions of Sikh regiments” from the army’s past. In 2007, defence chiefs abandoned plans to create a regiment of British Sikhs after talks with the Commission for Racial Equality.

Sikh leaders informed recruitment officers that they could easily find enough volunteers to form a 700-strong regiment. However, Freddie Viggers, who was responsible for recruitment at the time, is understood to have accepted the race commissioners’ argument that creating the regiment would amount to “segregation”.

Leaders of Britain’s 500,000-strong Sikh community were supportive of the idea of a new regiment, arguing that it would be no different from the Scots, Welsh and Irish Guards, or the Royal Gurkha Rifles, which recruits exclusively from Nepal and which is regarded as a model infantry regiment. 

Agencies

Agencies

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