Sirmore: Students of Kalgidhar Society, alongwith India's U-18 basketball player Anmol Singh, has sent out a strong message to FIBA by playing a local match here with their turbans on, protesting against the discrimination meted out to Sikh players during Asian Championship in China.
International Basketball Federation's decision against Indian Sikh players, Amritpal Singh and Amjyot Singh, who were asked to remove their turban in Wuhan, had invited outrage on social media and the internet.
Anmol Singh, who met with a similar fate in an opening game against Qatar during the Asia U-18 championship, said: "I was shocked when I was informed by Doha's officials that I cannot continue to play unless I remove my turban.
"I really can't fathom the fact that how a turban can physically hurt a player. It's unfortunate that the Federation has so far remained resolute with their decision," he said yesterday.
Wielding their turban, students of the Society's Akal Academy enthralled the spectators with their game in the lap of the Himalayas here.
Hurt by the statement issued by FIBA which said that players cannot wear any form of headgear which may cause injury to others, a participant Sher Jung said, "It's no different than any other cloth that a player wears. How can a piece of cloth cause injury to other players must be explained by the federation.
"A turban is an identity and a part of our religious and cultural heritage which a Sikh wears on his head and the Federation must respect that."
Jasleen Kaur, a class 11 student and a passionate lover of the game, said: "One should see the capabilities of the players rather than what he is wearing. FIBA needs to review their decision which if the result is negative, we will be compelled to continue with our fight."
Saddened by the incident, Baba Iqbal Singh, who heads the society said, "Rules are meant to conduct games harmoniously not to divide people. We decided to adopt peaceful means to protest rather than staging demonstration and raising slogans and this game is one of its manifestation.
"I hope we will successfully convey our message and the Federation will review their discriminatory action against Sikh players."
The match was played in the wake of the controversy that sparked off during a basketball match against Japan in Wuhan when two Indian players, Amritpal and Amjyot Singh were subjected to humiliation where they were asked to remove their turbans as it violated the rules of the game.
The controversy resurfaced against when U-18 Indian basketball player, AnmolSingh was asked to remove his turban in Qatar.
The society has so far remained apprehensive of FIBA's final decision and will continue with its peaceful protests. It has garnered some good support from eminent personalities like Mikha Singh, Bishan Singh Bedi, DalerMehndi and others.
Earlier, it had also launched an online petition on Change.Org against the discriminatory action by the body and has so far drawn good support from it.