No court, govt authority has right to define a Sikh, says Akal Takht on Chandigarh helmet rule
The highest Sikh temporal seat asks the SGPC to take legal steps to counter Chandigarh administration’s order.punjab Updated: Jul 24, 2018 12:36 IST
Akal Takht, the highest Sikh temporal seat on Monday opposed the Chandigarh administration’s July 6 notification making it mandatory for all non-turbaned Sikh women to wear helmets while driving two-wheelers or riding pillion.
“No court or any government authority had the right to define a Sikh,” said the Akal Takht while passing a resolution saying the notification violates the Sikh code of conduct.
The notification, being opposed by many Sikh groups, exempts turbaned Sikh woman from wearing a helmet. The Istri Akali Dal (SAD women wing) headed by Bibi Jagir Kaur had urged the Akal Takht to intervene in the matter after the notification. In Punjab and Haryana, all Sikh women can ride two-wheelers without helmets.
“A woman whose surname is Kaur and she does not trim her hair is considered as Sikh as per Sikh rehat maryada (code of conduct). Wearing a turban is not mandatory for her. It depends on her choice. However, on this ground, the helmet cannot be made mandatory for her,’’ said Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh in reference to the resolution in this regard.
“A Sikh woman is a Sikh even she does not wear a turban. And wearing a helmet or any other kind of top or cap is a violation of Sikh tenets and the Sikhs cannot be forced to wear helmets,” he added. He said the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, which manages Sikh shrines, was asked to take legal measures to counter the notification.
Sikh groups have cited Sikh rehatnamas (old version of the code of ethics) to oppose the wearing of helmets. They say that teachings of Sikh Gurus prohibit wearing any kind “of top or cap” and ask the followers of Sikhism to wear only turbans. Sikhs consider helmets a kind of top and call them lohtop (tops made of iron).
The Chandigarh police are also yet to start penalising non-turbaned women two-wheeler riders and are focusing on awareness campaigns for now.