The celebrations took place at the plaque dedicated to the memory of Polish refugees from the USSR, who during World War II found refuge in the territory of today's Republic of India. The plaque, unveiled last year, is an expression of gratitude to the authorities and residents of the Indian Kolhapur principality for their help.
During the ceremony occasional speeches were delivered by the President of the Institute of National Remembrance Dr Jarosław Szarek, the Ambassador of the Republic of India in Poland and Lithuania Tsewang Namgyal, and the President of the Association of Poles in India in 1942-48 Andrzej Chendyński. The First Secretary of the Embassy of the Republic of India in Poland Surendra Velagaleti and Tomasz Stachurski from the Office for War Veterans and Victims of Oppression of the Republic of Poland also attended the event.
Ambassador Tsewang Namgyal recalled the figure of Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of the freedom movement, thanks to whom India regained its independence. He also underlined Gandhi’s belief in passive resistance and lack of violence in the fight against the British. “Today we would also like to pay homage to the Maharaja, who during the war selflessly helped over a thousand Polish children,”said Tsewang Namgyal, referring to the hospitable reception of Polish refugees from the USSR on the Indian soil.
The President of the Institute of National Remembrance Jarosław Szarek stressed the cruelty of fate especially of the youngest generation during World War II. “War, a sea of evil and unhappiness, showed that there are good people who will not be indifferent to suffering, giving a hand, and taking care of these children. Among these people there were representatives of the Indian nation headed by a good Maharaja. They created a small Poland so far from Polish soil, where they could forget about pain or at least try to reduce their pain of losing their loved ones,” said the President of the Institute of National Remembrance, expressing gratitude for the kindness that young Poles were shown in India during the war. He stated that such a past is a good foundation for cooperation. He also recalled the figure of the great hero Gandhi, who for many Poles fighting for freedom in the 1980s was an inspiration to fight the communist system without violence.
President of the Association of Poles in India in 1942-48 Andrzej Chendyński recalled the memory of the Independence Day of India in 1947 celebrated in the Polish housing estate in India together with the Indians. “There, we were taught love for our homeland - Poland. In schools, scouts’ meetings and in church,” he said.
The celebrations ended with laying wreaths at the plaque.