THE consulate general of India is seeking to rename a road near Kings Park to honour an Indian private who died serving with the ANZACs in the Great War.
Nain Singh Sailani was a Hindu Gurkha from Shimla in northern India. He came to Australia in 1895 aged 22 and worked as a builder in Geraldton before enlisting in Perth in 1916, at a time when the Australian Defence Act of 1909 still said those “not substantially of European origin or descent” weren’t allowed.
He was one of 12 known Indian Anzacs who served with the Australian Imperial Army during World War I. Pte Sailani was killed in action on the Belgian front in June 1917, age 44, and was buried in Belgium’s Ploegsteert Wood.
He was one of two known Indian Anzac casualties, along with Private Sarn Singh who was killed in action nine days later on the same front. A plaque was dedicated to Pte Sailani in Kings Park in 2017.
The consulate general of India recently penned letters to the premier’s department and Perth lord mayor Basil Zempilas seeking recognition of Pte Sailani.
The letter to Mr Zempilas read: “The consulate general of India in Perth, on the advice of Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, requests the naming of a street (in the vicinity of Kings Park) after late Pte Singh Sailani to honour the sacrifices made by Indian soldiers while serving the ANZAC”.
Perth council staff initially said there weren’t any roads near Kings Park in need of imminent renaming.
But then they got a letter from the federal foreign affairs department encouraging them to find a way to make it happen, suggesting renaming either Nelson Crescent or Nelson Avenue just near the WACA.
Both are named after British admiral Horatio Nelson — though they don’t have any record as to specifically why — so it’s proposed the latter could become Sailani Avenue.
It’s a long process to rename a street, starting with endorsement from Perth councillors to carry out community consultation, then a proper approval from council, then that recommendation gets sent to Landgate and forwarded on for a final rubber stamp from the WA minister for lands.