Melbourne: A group of retired 15 Indian defence officers in south Australia have been denied permission to participate independently in an annual march that commemorates the day 15,000 Indians with Australian and New Zealand forces landed in Turkey to fight during World War-I.
While ANZAC Day Committee Chair, the organisers, have invited the group to join the centenary ANZAC March next year, the group known as 'SA Indian defence officers club' have sought their inclusion under Indian ex-servicemen contingent every year which has not been accepted.
They were refused on the grounds that the march is only for the ANZACS and those foreign veterans who fought with them as allies. India was a British colony when the war was fought.
"We took the case with Director of Veterans Affairs for us to participate in the March held every year after realising that in other states it was happening," said Retired Major General Vikram Madan of the Club.
"We already knew Indian veterans marching in WA and Victoria and for last two years we were aware of NSW Indian veterans marching," he said.
He said that request when formally taken up with Director of Veterans Affairs, also the Chair of ANZAC Day Committee, was refused and they were offered that they march in next of kin category if they, in the Indian community, had a direct descendant of a soldier at Gallipoli.
"We would like to march next year and onwards under Commonwealth countries like in other states where Indian representation has been marching as Indian ex servicemen contingent," Madan said.
"It is a request to Returned & Services League (RSL) and organisers to allow us to pay homage to those Indian soldiers who died along with ANZACs in Gallipoli," he said, adding that if allowed the group would be marching in civilian clothes with medals.
Meanwhile, RSL of Australia (SA Branch) which organises all major ANZAC Day activities in the state per an appointed ANZAC Day Committee, said, "Indian veterans of conflicts in which Australia and India served as allies have always been welcome to participate in our ANZAC Day March."
RSL said in a statement that an invitation to join the ANZAC Day March was extended to the broader Indian community?in 2012 but added?that there was no place for simply marching as a group because the group have served in the armed forces of a country with which Australia were friends.
"In the last three years 'British India' has appeared on the ANZAC Day Order of March, a sign has been prepared and a Army cadet nominated to carry that sign," the statement said said.
About 15,000 Indians served alongside the 50,000 Australians at Gallipoli in Turkey, helping maintain supply lines over an eight-month offensive. Around 1500 Indians were killed in the fighting.