Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has advised British actor Laurence Fox to “read some military history” and termed as “bunkum” his remark that the featuring of a Sikh soldier in a scene in 1917 amounted to “forcing diversity” on viewers.
Fox’s remark on the movie, which has been nominated under the Best Picture category for the forthcoming Oscars, has triggered an uproar among Indians and Sikhs in the UK and military historians.
Amarinder, also a military historian, told The Indian Express that the Indian troops, which arrived in Europe in 1914, played an important role in preventing a military disaster. “This man is an actor. What does he know about military history? He is talking bunkum and he should read some history,” he said.
“Two divisions went from here (India), the Third Lahore Division and Seventh Meerut Division. My regiment was part of Jalandhar Brigade, which comprised the 129th Baluchis, 47 Sikhs and 15 Sikhs. There was also a British Regiment, as after 1857, each brigade had one British Regiment as its part,” he said.
Amarinder said the Indian troops had been in contact with the Germans in the North. “We fought a delaying action right up to the Ypres line. We very much fought alongside British troops. The whole system would have collapsed had Indians not been there. The Indian troops fought for 66 days straight without proper food, sleep and they were deadbeat at the end of it,” he said.
Squadron Leader Rana Chhina, a military historian with United Services Institute in Delhi, said that it was good that the movie had shown the presence of an Indian soldier, albeit briefly.
“There had been earlier movies like Gallipoli and Dunkirk, which did not recognise the major contribution of Indian soldiers in the World Wars. In Gallipoli, there was just one scene in which a khukri was shown lying on the sand. In Dunkirk, there was no mention of the fact that there were four animal transport units in the area out of which three were evacuated and one was captured by the Germans,” he said.
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