India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar joined the Indian community of Perth as he visited Sailani Avenue, a street in East Perth, named after Shimla-born soldier Private Nain Singh Sailani.
Sailani was one of 12 known Indian ANZACs (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) who served with the Australian Imperial Army during World War I.
Enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in 1916, he was killed in Belgium while on active duty in June 1917.
“Visited Sailani Avenue in Perth. Named after Nain Singh Sailani, an Indian-origin soldier honored in Australia,” Jaishankar, who is on a two-day visit to Australia to attend the 7th Indian Ocean Conference, wrote on X. “Glad to meet some of our veterans and Indian community leaders there.”
Visited Sailani Avenue in Perth. Named after Nain Singh Sailani, an Indian origin soldier honored in Australia.
Glad to meet some of our veterans and Indian community leaders there. pic.twitter.com/Nyvxwxe3Mn
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) February 10, 2024
The Minister earlier joined his counterpart Penny Wong to discuss India-Australia ties, Indian Ocean architecture, and the shared interests of both countries in the Indo-Pacific.
Sailani Avenue was earlier known as Nelson Avenue and was renamed in honour of the Sikh war hero in 2023, following a personal request from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Sailani Avenue will act as a tangible reminder of the role Anzacs from the Indian community played in shaping our state’s history and paving the way for future generations,” Basil Zempilas, Lord Mayor of Perth, had said.
Born in Shimla in 1873, Sailani migrated to Australia in 1895 as a 22-year-old and initially lived in the town of Geraldton, about 400 kilometres north of Perth, where he found work as a labourer.
He was 43 when he volunteered for the Australian Imperial Force in 1916 and was allotted to the 44th Battalion as the First World War broke out.
As a soldier, he served with his unit in France and was one of two Indian-Australian soldiers, the other being soldier Sarn Singh, killed in action on June 1, 1917.
Sailani was buried at the Strand Military Cemetery in Belgium alongside other Australian soldiers, and in 2017, a plaque was installed in Kings Park, Perth, to honour his sacrifice.
He received the British War Medal, Victory Medal, and the 1914/15 Star in recognition of his service.
Dr. Jaishankar also attended a community reception at the Indian Community Centre at Perth, and met with WA Parliamentarians of Indian origin Zaneta Mascarenhas, Varun Ghosh and Dr Jagadish Krishnan.