LUDHIANA- Numerous political, religious, human rights and BKUs parties
and groups, on January 24, appealed to the French government not go
ahead with the proposed legislation banning the wearing of Sikh Dastaar
(turban) in public schools and to regulate their wearing at the workplace
The appeal was made through a resolution unanimously adopted at an
all-party meeting convened by the International Human Rights Organisation
(IHRO) at Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarabha Nagar, Ludhiana, asking the French
government also to take care of the religious feelings of other prevailing
faiths in the French homeland.
Dozens representatives of numerous groups, including Punjab Human Rights
Organisation (PHRO), Khalra Mission Committee, Movement Against State
Repression, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Shiromani
Akali Dals, Dal Khalsa, Bharti Kisan Unions, Institute of Sikh Studies,
Sikh League International, Punjab Sikh Lawyers Council, World Sikh Council,
Sant Samaj, Sikh Students Federations, attended the meeting and expressed
solidarity with the Sikhs living in France.
IHRO chairperson D S Gill said that the proposed law violated fundamental
human rights, including freedom of religion and the right to education.
"Wearing a Turban is not optional but a mandatory requirement of
the Sikh faith. Such law will deny approximately 7,000 Sikhs, residing
in France, their fundamental right to practise their faith," he
The French proposed law, if enacted, will ban Sikhs from wearing their
distinctive Turbans in addition to banning Islamic head coverings, Jewish
skullcaps and oversized Christian crosses in public schools and workplaces,
said IHRO secretary-general Mohinder Singh Grewal.
While condemning the issue of banning the wearing of articles of faith,
participants felt the need to counter this move since wearing a turban
was a matter of faith unlike scarves or crosses worn by people of other
faiths. As per Sikh tenets, every Sikh has to have unshorn hair and
wear a turban. "This had been ordained by none other than the Tenth
Guru Gobind Singh," said Pishora Singh of the Bharti Kisan Union
When some leaders tried to enforce the use of helmets on the Sikhs at
the outbreak of the World War, the Sikhs resisted the move and decided
that Sikhs should not wear the helmets, because it is an act of apostasy?
So, the Sikh soldiers were allowed to wear their turbans and they fought
for freedom of French people, said former Jathedar of Sri Akal Takht
Sahib, Bhai Jasvir Singh Rode, now the chief of the Religious Wing of
the SAD (Ravi Inder Singh).
Most of the speakers felt that the top Sikh leadership, especially of
the SAD (Badal) and the SGPC, is not taking interest the required interest
in the matter and urged them to immediately talk to the Prime Minister
and the President of India to use their good offices to put pressure
on Paris to see reason and to drop the proposed legislation. Its lightweight
secretary Dalmegh Singh who assured all help for the cause represented
the SGPC. The absence of SAD (Mann) and Congress party was conspicuous.
SAD (D) president Kuldip Singh Wadala quoted ‘Universal Declaration
of Human Rights’ as saying that everyone has the right to freedom
of thought, conscience and religion and this right includes freedom
in public or private to manifest his religious beliefs.
Endorsing Wadala’s views, Gian Chand of the Punjab Janata Morcha
added that the States Parties to this declaration undertook to have
respect for the liberty to ensure the religious and moral education
of their children in conformity with their own convictions. SSF leader
Jaspal Singh Manjhpur condemned the inaction of the Akali leadership
so far on this sensitive issue.
Prof KBS Sodhi, Director, IHRO Religious and Academic Affairs, Dr Sarup
Singh Alag, Dr Devinder Kaur Deep, Prof Anurag Singh, Tejwant Singh
Grewal, Jatinder Singh Sandhu (PSLC), Santokh Singh of the Institute
of Sikh Studies and IHRO public relations secretary Inderjeet Kaur shared
their views on the right to wear turban, giving historical and spiritual
aspects on the subject matter.
London based journalist Nirpal Singh Shergill apprised the representative
congregation of the Panth of the efforts and the lobby created by the
Sikh Diaspora, including US based NGO, the United Sikhs. Surat Singh
Khalsa explained the importance of the Turban in Sikh faith.
D S Gill, while concluding the meeting, cautioned the French government
of the impact that was going to affect all faiths worldwide in case
the French government did not stop going ahead with the proposed legislation.
Sri Singh Sabha Gurdwara president Shingar Singh thanked the Panthic
representatives who had gathered there for the noble cause.
(D S Gill)
the All-party meeting