France unveils bronze statue commemorating role of Indian soldiers in World War I

A statue commemorating the role of Indian soldiers in World War I was unveiled on November 11, 2018 in the town of Laventie, France to mark the end of the First World War in 1918. Another memorial was inaugurated by Vice President Venkaiah Naidu at Villers Guislain in France on November 10, 2018. The main motif of the Indian War Memorial at Villers Guislain is the Indian national emblem that has four Ashoka lions.

Key Highlights:-

1. The Bronze statue was unveiled at a spot allocated by the Mayor of Laventie, Jean-Philippe Boonaert, adjacent to a 12th-century church, St Vaast, in the French town.
2. The town of Laventie was chosen as the site of the commemorative statue after the remains of two soldiers belonging to the 39th Royal Garhwal Rifles were identified and reburied with military honours in 2017.
3. The unveiling marks the commencement of the project to establish 57 such statues near all cemeteries where Indian soldiers lie buried in France.
4. The martyred Indian soldiers largely went undocumented as the forces sent from the subcontinent at the time were either British Empire soldiers or soldiers of Indian princely states.
5. The IFSC has now commenced work to establish a 12-tonne brass statue adjacent to the Indian war memorial at Neuve Chapelle in Richebourg, France.
6. The memorial commemorates over 4,700 soldiers and labourers from British India who lost their lives on the Western Front during World War I and have no known graves.
7. A spot has been allocated by the local French authorities for this large sculpture, which is also expected to be unveiled in 2019.

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