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British Army considering creation of Sikh regiment

February 24, 2015 | By

London: Mark Francois, the Armed Forces minister said today in Parliament that Lieutenant General Sir Nicholas Carter, the Chief of the General Staff is examining proposals to create a Sikh regiment,

He said the idea “may well have merit” and a reserve company is also under consideration that would inherit many of the “proud traditions of Sikh regiments” from the Army’s past.

Speaking during defence questions, Conservative former defence minister Sir Nicholas Soames urged ministers to “do away with political correctness” and raise a Sikh regiment.

[FIle Photo]

[FIle Photo]

The Mid Sussex MP told Mr Francois: “You will be aware of the extraordinary gallant and distinguished service by Sikhs to this country down the generations.

“Would you not agree with me that it’s high time to do away with the political correctness which infects some of this thinking and actually raise a Sikh regiment to serve in the country and make up a very serious gap in our Armed Forces?”

Mr Francois replied: “With regard to your specific suggestion, can I say that you are one of a number of Members of Parliament who have raised this suggestion with me recently.

“We have passed this possibility on to the chief of the general staff (CGS), who is now looking at this issue and we are awaiting CGS’s comments back.

“But the idea may well have merit.”

Conservative Rory Stewart, chairman of the Defence Select Committee, also asked Mr Francois to look at a Sikh company within the reserves “as a starting point”.

He added: “There seems to be much more possibility within the reserves to begin what seems like an excellent idea.”

Mr Francois replied: “I said earlier the idea may have merit but we’ve looked at one specific option, or are looking, at the possibility of a reserve company – not least one which would inherit many of the proud traditions of Sikh regiments going back through many years in the British Army.

“(Defence Minister Julian Brazier) is leading on that particular aspect and he too remains in contact with CGS on this matter.”

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said: “We welcome this announcement. It is a shame it has come so close to the General Election, but we will urge any future UK Government to make this a reality. Prince Charles confirmed his support to us a few months ago and it is good politicians are now beginning to see the logic. Better late than never.”

“We expect the Conservatives and Labour to make a number of other positive announcements in the next couple of months as they fight for Sikh votes. The Sikh Manifesto sets out many of the issues where we need progress.”

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