Polls on mind, Akali & cong MPS vie to voice turban issue

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Old 17-Mar-2011
Polls on mind, Akali & cong MPS vie to voice turban issue

New Delhi March 17:

A day after Amritinder Singh, coach of ace Indian golfer Jeev Milkha Singh, was asked to remove his turban for a security check at Milan’s Malpensa airport, Punjab’s rival political factions scrambled to raise the matter in the Lok Sabha.

While Shiromani Akali Dal members led by the very vocal Bathinda MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal stormed the well of the House insisting for permission to speak, Congress’ Pratap Singh Bajwa bagged the first chance to assume centrestage when Speaker Meira Kumar called out his name.

The Akalis were miffed no end, as was later clear from the remarks of Harsimrat Badal, who not only accused the Centre of being a mute spectator to a “wipeout threat the Sikh identity was facing”, but also said that the Centre was “anti-Sikh”. Refusing to identify herself with the Congress on the matter, she pointed towards Bajwa and asked, “You should seek the status of Sikhs across the world from your own MoS in the External Affairs Ministry. We were the ones who met the French President recently to (lodge our) protest the issue. Where were you then?”

As the sparring continued at the end of External Affairs Minster SM Krishna’s reply in the Lok Sabha today on the Demand of Grants (budget) for his Ministry for 2011-2012, the government insisted that it respected the Sikhs who had contributed immensely to the freedom struggle. “We have brought all such instances to the notice of the respective governments and asked them to extend due courtesies to the religious and cultural sensitivities of all travellers,” Krishna said. Earlier, both Badal and Bajwa spoke of the manner in which certain nations were repeatedly attacking the symbols of Sikh identity.

“Our children are not being allowed to wear the ‘kada’ and our people are asked to remove the turban for things as small as a passport photo and a driving licence test. This is the way you treat the people who laid down their lives for India,” Harsimrat smirked. Congress’ Gurdaspur MP Bajwa recalled all past instances of discourtesy to the symbols of Sikh identity and sought the Centre’s protection for the community. “It was utterly rude of Milan security officials to ask Amritinder Singh to keep his turban in a tray where people keep their shoes,” he added.

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