British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has honoured Rajindar Singh Dhatt, one of the last surviving Sikh soldiers who fought in the Second World War with a Points of Light honour at a UK-India Week reception at 10 Downing Street.
Dhatt, 101, was recognised on Wednesday for his service and his work running the “Undivided Indian Ex-Servicemen’s Association” to help bring together British Indian war veterans.
Dhatt, based in Hounslow in southwest London since 1963, was born in pre-Partition India in 1921 and fought with the Allied forces during the British colonial period.
It is an immense honour to receive this recognition from the Prime Minister, to whom I would like to extend my deepest appreciation for acknowledging the importance and impact of the ‘Undivided Indian Ex-Servicemen’s Association’,” said Dhatt.
The journey of establishing this organisation was driven by a deep sense of duty as an ex-serviceman and the vision of fostering unity, support, and camaraderie. This award serves as a testament to the tireless efforts of countless individuals who have contributed to the success and growth of the association over the years, he said.
Their unwavering commitment and selfless service has played a pivotal role in bringing about positive change in the lives of our ex-servicemen and their families, he added.
Dhatt joined the British Indian Army during the Second World War and excelled up the ranks, being promoted to Havildar Major (Sergeant Major) in 1943.
He was later drafted to the Far East campaign to fight in Kohima in northeast India to support the Allied Forces and help break through the Japanese defences, Downing Street said. After the war, Dhatt returned to India before settling in London with his family.
His association recently created an online community for veterans, sharing articles about personal stories and opportunities to connect. Dhatt also continues to speak at memorial events and work with war veteran charities, including the Royal British Legion and the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans, telling stories through teaching packs and online resources.
Dhatt said the award is a “momentous occasion” that inspires him to continue making meaningful contributions to society, even as he nears his 102nd birthday.
According to Downing Street, the Points of Light recognise outstanding people whose service is making a difference in their communities and whose stories can inspire others towards innovative solutions to social challenges in their own communities and beyond.
Dhatt’s honour coincided with a Downing Street reception celebrating India Global Forum’s UK-India Week celebration of the bilateral relationship, where Prime Minister Sunak spoke of Dhatt as an “incredible man” and thanked him for his service as a member of the Indian diaspora “living bridge”.
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