Sukhbir seeks Centre`s apology on turban issue

Noting that wearing turban is an intricate part of Sikh tradition, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister said nobody in the world has the right to denigrate the "pious symbol".

Chandigarh: Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on Thursday sought an apology from the Congress-led UPA government for failing to give out a firm message to all countries to be sensitive towards concerns of Sikh community, regarding wearing turbans.

"The UPA government owes an apology to the Sikh community for failing to give a firm message to all countries not to harass Sikhs," he said, adding that it was double whammy for the Sikhs that they were being targeted when the Prime Minister of the country happens to be from that community.

Badal lauded the stand taken by Manjit Singh GK, president Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee for not allowing Italian airport authorities to remove his headgear during a security check.

He said Manjit`s defiant gesture has conveyed to the whole community that Sikhs would not allow anyone to meddle in their internal religious affairs.

Noting that wearing turban is an intricate part of Sikh tradition, the deputy chief minister said nobody in the world has the right to denigrate the "pious symbol".

Badal said it was unfortunate that various democracies of the US, Canada and European countries were "adopting parochial and racial approach towards the Sikh community, specifically targeting them at the international airports taking the plea of security." He further alleged that "there seems to be underlying conspiracy of Congress leadership in this."

The Sikh delegation, which included Manjit, was asked to remove their turbans at the Rome International Airport on August 6 following which the Indian Embassy in Rome had taken the matter up with the airport authorities as well as with the Italian Foreign Office.

Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), apex religious body of the Sikhs, also strongly condemned the incident.

SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar said that the DSGMC delegation had gone to Italy to attend a function on the0 awareness about the Sikh tradition of wearing turban.

Makkar said that the SGPC would take up the issue with the Prime Minister as well as the representatives of European Union (EU).

Meanwhile, the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has also asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take up the issue with the Italian government and the EU and recommend adequate sensitisation programmes be conducted for the airport security personnel in all the EU countries.

Its member Dr Ajaib Singh told a news agency in Patiala of writing to the Prime minister in this regard.

The NCM member also asked External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid to take this issue with EU as they may be directed to strictly adhere to the already existing EU guidelines to use electronic equipment in security checks and refrain from following "archaic procedures that violate the privacy and dignity of individuals".

Ajaib Singh also strongly condemned the humiliation meted out to Manjeet at the Rome airport and has also written to the Italian Ambassador to India as well as the EU Ambassador to India on this issue.

Radical Sikh outfit the Dal Khalsa also came down heavily on the Italian government over the incident. Party spokesperson Kanwarpal Singh termed the incident as "disturbing" and lauded the courage shown by GK at the Rome airport.

Meanwhile, the DSGMC delegation, including its President GK, reached Dubai for a religious function today.

The members left Rome this morning after protocol officer from India`s High Commission arranged their departure.


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