Statue of Indian-origin British fighter pilot unveiled in Kent

London (IANS): A statue of Mahinder Singh Pujji, an Indian-origin fighter pilot who had served in Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) during the Second World War, was unveiled in Kent.

Pujji had died at the age of 92 in the Gravesend town of Britain’s Kent county in 2010, as the longest surviving fighter pilot from a group of 24 Indians who had arrived in Britain in 1940, BBC reported Friday.

The statue is intended to represent all the service personnel from across the world who have fought for Britain in conflicts since 1914.

Members of the Pujji family attended the unveiling in St Andrews Gardens.

Pujji, who learned to fly as a hobby in India, began training with the RAF in the autumn of 1940.

Early the next year, he began flying Hurricanes, protecting coastal convoys and intercepting bombers and fighters when Adolf Hitler ordered the bombing of London.

He survived several crashes and flew combat missions throughout the second World War in Britain, Europe, north Africa, the Middle East and Burma (Myanmar) and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

After the war, he became a champion air race pilot in India.

“Reading about him made me realise what an amazing hero he was,” said the statue’s sculptor Douglas Jennings.

“(Pujji) was a volunteer. It was his choice to fight for the British and that bowls me over,” he said.

Pujji’s son Santinder said his father loved Gravesend.

“He liked the sea and when he used to fly, this was the first land he saw (and) so he used to feel happy,” he said.

Gravesham borough councillor Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi said the Gravesend community, which has one of the largest gurdwaras in Britain, raised 70,000 pounds (around $109,500) for the statue in a month.