Sukhbir Singh Badal, President Shiromani Akali Dal and Deputy chief minister, Punjab today wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid protesting against the removal of turban of Manjit Singh GK, President, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, who was made to remove his turban at Rome Airport yesterday.
In a communique to the PM and External Affairs Minister, Badal said that Sikhs were being deliberately targeted in the airports of Italy repeatedly and Government of India owes and explanation to the country for its complete failure to safeguard the interests of Sikhs despite various hollow assurances. Registering a strong protest in a communiqué to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Badal said that he on behalf of entire Sikh community was lodging a protest over intolerable way Sikhs are treated at airports in Italy and other countries of the world.
Badal said that earlier incident of forcible removal of turban of Commander of Jet Airways at Milan airport and now removal of turban of DSGMC President, representing the Sikh Community of Delhi reflects that Congress led UPA Government was bent upon hurting the sentiments of Sikh community and reflects the Union Government’s utter failure to ensure dignity of Sikhs.
Pointing to the total failure of Congress led UPA government in pressurizing Italy government, Badal said that removal of turban of GK at Rome airport was reminiscent of earlier incident that happened with Ravijodh Singh Dhupia, a commander of Jet Airways, who was forced to remove his turban at Milan airport. He said that SAD protested against maltreatment of Ravjodh Singh, the prime minister had assured that he has taken up this issue with Italy government and there would not be any repeat of such incident. He said that repeated incidents of deliberate harassment of Sikhs especially in Italy convey an impression that they were being specifically targeted under an agenda.
He said that it was intolerable and unfortunate that the officials deployed on international airports again and again harass Sikhs by removing their turbans under security check excuses. He said that repeated incidents in the Italy have proved that the Union government has failed to convey to the Italian government and to the other governments not to remove the turbans of Sikhs. He said that to ask a Sikh to remove his turban was in fact an atrocity on him and all over the world Sikhs in one voice have stood up to call this an act of great violence and cruelty on Sikhs.
The SAD President said that it was surprising that despite several assurances given by the Union Minister of External Affairs in the Lok Sabha such incidents could not have been stopped. He said that earlier Amritinder Singh, coach of Golfer Jeev Milkha singh was asked by the airport security staff at Milan to remove his turban not just once on his arrival at Milan airport but also again when he was departing from the same place, which was stark example how Sikhs are being treated at airports in Italy.
Badal said that such behaviours in the airports of Italy were unacceptable to the Sikh community and he on behalf the Sikh community condemn such acts. He said that Union government should bring the recent incident to the notice of Italy government and other countries of the world that turban was the most recognizable feature of a Sikhs, unlike other head coverings it was an inextricable part of Sikh identity and was worn by Sikihs at all times to cover their unshorn hair, a mandatory article of their faith.
Lamenting on the Union government for its complete failure on this issue, Badal said that it was most regrettable that despite our large-scale protest Sikhs were continued to be treated in this manner in USA, France, Australia and many other countries. Badal urged that Union government should ensure that in future such unwarranted incidents do not occur and special advisories be sent through all our foreign missions and offices to sensitize about the Turban of Sikhs.