Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president and Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on Friday urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and external affairs minister Salman Khurshid to immediately take up the issue of the proposed legislation to ban the Sikh turban and kirpan in Canada's Quebec province.
In a statement issued here, Sukhbir said it was unfortunate that the Quebec assembly was bringing an ordinance to impose the ban on the wearing of turban and kirpan by Sikhs and headgear by Muslims and Jews in public places, schools, colleges and religious places to target the minorities.
The SAD president said this move was against religious rights of Sikhs in Canada, where the community was predominant in many provinces and Punjabi had been awarded second-language status.
Sukhbir said a delegation of SAD MPs would soon call on the Prime Minister and the external affairs minister. He said the PM, himself a Sikh, should strongly take up this issue with his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper, who recently visited Punjab and paid obeisance at Anandpur Sahib.
The deputy CM said Harper was well aware of the rich cultural and religious heritage of Sikhs and the SAD would also write to Punjabi MPs in Canada to apprise Harper of the issue.
Sukhbir said the Quebec move was a chain reaction of the Congress-led UPA government's failure to force the French government to lift the ban on the turban in French schools. He added that the French-dominated Quebec assembly's intention was to replicate France's decision.
The deputy CM said the SAD would soon organise a protest outside the Canadian consulate against this proposal and hand over a memorandum to the Canadian ambassador.