Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) president Manjit Singh GK was told to remove his turban during a security check at the Rome airport on Tuesday night. However, he, along with other members of the DSGMC delegation, refused to do so and decided not to board their Dubai-bound Emirates flight.
GK was returning from Italy's Cremona city after attending a Dastar (turban) Awareness Day event, organised by a Europe-based TV channel. He was accompanied by DSGMC's dharma parchar committee chairman Paramjit Singh Rana, committee members Gurvinder Singh, Inderjeet Singh Gulati and Gurbachan Singh Cheema, and another invitee, Puneet Singh Chandok. They were all told to remove their turbans, but refused in unison.
On Wednesday, a delegation led by DSGMC general secretary Manjinder Singh Sirsa reached the Italian embassy in New Delhi and handed over a memorandum to officials. Later, Sirsa and other Sikhs staged a protest outside the embassy and demanded that the DSGMC delegation be allowed to board the plane without turban frisking.
Sirsa said he had been assured by the Italian embassy in Delhi that the DSGMC delegation would not be forced to remove the turban. "Let's see how this message is conveyed to the Rome airport authorities," he told HT on the phone.
"We would not lower the dignity of the turban. We are exploring a way out and are hopeful that the delegation would leave Rome in a dignified manner," said Sirsa, who is in touch with the delegation.
Badal condemns incident
Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, who was holding a sangat darshan in Gidderbaha, called the incident unfortunate. "Seeking the removal of the turban in the name of a security check in foreign countries is a direct assault on the Sikh identity. It is intolerable," said Badal.
Union minister of state for external affairs Preneet Kaur said she had spoken to the Indian high commission in Italy. "They are dealing with the issue. I'm sure the DSGMC delegation would take the next flight to Dubai and the turban's dignity would be maintained," she told HT on the phone.
1.President of Indian overseas congress Karamjit Singh Dhillon alongwith 10 other Sikhs were forced to remove turbans at Rome airport in February 2011
2.Amritinder Singh coach of golfer Jeev Milkha Singh forced to remove turban on two occasions – May 15, 2011 and May 23, 2011 at Milan airport when he was accompanying Jeev Milkha Singh to take part in a golf competition.
3. Jet airways pilot Ravijodh Singh Dhupia was forced to remove turban at Milan airport in December 2011