Duleep Singh's statue white painted in Thetford
attack 'racially motivated'
Thetford, March 11, 2005
A town mayor tonight labelled vandals who desecrated
a statue of the last ruler of the Sikh nation as despicable
Police are treating the defacing of the towering memorial
of Thetford's 19th century Sikh benefactor, the Maharajah
Duleep Singh, as racially motivated.
Maharajah Duleep Singh was the last Sikh Maharajah of
the Punjab. For many years, he lived a few miles outside
of Thetford at Elveden Hall. He was buried with his wife
and one of his son's at Elveden church. Another of his son's,
Frederick Singh, was a benefactor of the town.
Townspeople were today horrified to find that white paint
had been poured all over the £50,000 bronze statue
standing on Butten Island, near the centre of town.
Swastikas and NF, thought to stand for the National Front
Party, were also scrawled over the imposing figure of Duleep
Singh riding a horse.
It is likely to cost thousands to restore the statue, which
is an important tourist attraction forming part of the only
UK-wide Sikh heritage trail, bringing more visitors into
Town mayor Ray Key declared himself livid and
said the vandals who had desecrated the statue
should be imprisoned.
Police are carrying out forensic tests on the cans left
behind on the statue, checking CCTV and want to speak to
anybody who may have evidence.
Insp Tim Peacock, of Thetford Police, said the attack was
of a racial nature and said the offenders would
be prosecuted to the full extent of the law
Since it was gifted to the town in 1999, the statue has
remained virtually unmarked, said Mr Key.
I am absolutely livid about this. I can't put it
into words. They should be put in prison. They are sick.
I cannot find the words for people who act like this.
It means a lot to the Sikh nation and we're very
privileged to have it in our town. It's been a lovely feature
in a beautiful area. It has been desecrated.
He said Duleep Singh, who was the last Prince of the Punjab
who lived in nearby Elveden Hall, had given much to the
town, for which its people ought to be grateful.
We were so pleased and proud to have this statue
in this town. I am ashamed. It is a slur on the town.
Mr Key said town council workers had already cleaned the
worst of the graffiti off, but that they could not remove
the oil-based paint without permission from the owners,
the Maharajah Duleep Singh Centenary Trust.
Insp Peacock agreed that the statue means a lot to the
We're keen on speaking to anybody who has got any
evidence. It is of a racial nature and offenders will be
prosecuted to the full extent of the law, if we can get
the evidence to do so.
He said pictures had been taken of the graffiti before
it had been removed and officers had removed the paint cans.
The monument stands as a memorial to the prince 100 years
after his death.
A spokesman for the centenary trust has called it a recognition
of the prince's historical links with East Anglia and on
a wider scale that between the Sikhs and the British nation.
The last native ruler of the Punjab, Duleep Singh transferred
his rights to the English in exchange for a pension and
travelled to Suffolk, where in 1863 he bought the Elveden
estate. He is buried in the village churchyard. Duleep Singh's
son, Frederick, gave the Ancient House in Thetford to the
town for use as a museum.