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Sikh Turban in a shoe tray : Anybody there?

H S Bawa

Yes Punjab Editorial

Yes Punjab had warned about it. Yes, we did warn about the challenge the Sikh Community faces, the challenge to the Sikh Turban, the identity of the Sikhs.

We blamed, yes, we straightaway and in unequivocal terms blamed the Sikh leadership and the government of India for not taking note and for not doing enough even though the issue was getting serious by the day.

The challenge, we told, was quiet serious but nobody cared, as always. (Sikh Turban in danger – Sikh Leaders & India to be blamed. ‘Yes Punjab Editorial’ posted on 24th of February)

And lo, listen to Amritinder Singh, a pro golfer and the swing Coach of Jeev Milkha Singh, the International Golfer, who represents India.

Amritinder Singh, talking to TOI from Sicily, has been reported having said that he was not only threatened with arrest but his turban was removed in a public toilet and carried away for scanning in a tray used for carrying shoes at the Milan airport in the infamous episode that has triggered outrage and shook the Indian parliament on Wednesday.


Reacting on the incident, Nirmal Milkha Singh, Jeev’s mother and wife of the ‘Flying Sikh’ Milkha singh, has also come on record saying, “The Flying Sikh has traveled all over the world. Whenever his turban is to be checked, they use a scanner around it. What would happen if they resort to such techniques with the ‘Flying Sikh’ the next time he checks in at an airport in Europe?”

Amritinder Singh’s father, Simran Singh, who was India’s pioneering pro golfer, said the family was “not going to take this humiliation lying down. We are going to take up this issue through well-wishers who are in contact with the government. There have been similar episodes in the past with Sikhs but the government seems ineffective. How long shall the Sikhs take such humiliation?”


Sujjan Singh, another golfer from Chandigarh, who was tied fifth at the Avanta Masters and is the only Sikh golfer to sport a full turban on the course, was shocked, and said, “Whenever I am checked at the airport, they ask me to pat my turban and then my fingers are tested with some substances to detect explosives. I have never been troubled in the US and Europe. In fact, I think the airport authorities have got sensitive to such sensibilities. I feel the best way to tackle this problem is for Sikh golfers to do well abroad so that they come on TV and get global exposure. The people will understand better and not just see the turban as some religious symbol,” said Sujjan Singh.

It may sound repetitive but it’s not the first time that such a thing has happened to a Sikh.

Besides narrating the incident in detail, Amritinder Singh said no one from the Indian Government has contacted them as yet.

Now, that speaks volumes about the apathy of the Indian government with regards to this very serious and emotionally sensitive issue. But governments seldom become serious and almost never get emotional in democratic countries, at least as far as the issues of minorities are concerned, because minorities mean fewer votes.

Yes Punjab is with the father of Amritinder Singh, who said that his family was not going to take this humiliation lying down and asked, “How long the Sikhs shall continue to take such humiliation?” That’s what Yes Punjab is asking. How long…How long?

Coming to the reaction of Nirmal, mother of Jeev and wife of Milkha Singh, she at least seems to be concerned about the turban of her husband, Milkha Singh. That’s good but the problem, Madam, will get resolved only the day the Sikhs, rather than being concerned about their own turbans, show concern about the Turban of each and every Sikh.

Sujjan Singh, in his reaction, has something to suggest. He suggests that “the best way to tackle this problem is for Sikh golfers to do well abroad so that they come on TV and get global exposure. The people will understand better and not just see the turban as some religious symbol”.

Sujjan seems to be involved only in Golf. Perhaps he forgot that India today has a Prime Minister, who happens to be the first Sikh Prime Minister and like all the Sikhs sports a Turban.

If the world doesn’t or doesn’t want to recognize and identify the Sikhs with their turban and refuse to respect the Sikh Turban then what good a golfer will be able to do?

As statements are being hurled in one direction or the other on this issue, which has come to the centre-stage again, the Sikhs are looking up to a turbaned Sikh Prime Minister to say something, to do something so that the turban of the community remains on its head. Over to you, Prime Minister, Sir………




1036 Guru Granth Sahib Add Peer