Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal today said the turban was an integral part of Sikhism and that the party would take up the query raised on this issue by the Supreme Court with the central government to ensure this issue was resolved once and for all.In a statement today, the SAD president said he was pained as a devout Sikh that the importance of the turban in Sikh religion and faith was being questioned by the apex court. “I firmly believe that India stands for protection of the tenets of its people.The constitution also protects our religious rights under Article 25. We will take up the matter with the central government and ask it to represent our case forcefully in the Supreme Court. I am confident the apex court will also ensure our tenets are protected at all costs”.Speaking about the recent case of cyclist Jagdish Singh Puri who has challenged a local cyclist association rule that required him to wear a helmet to participate in championships, the SAD President said such rules needed to be done away with immediately. “Our religious rights are sacrosanct. No one should be allowed to interfere in them. The Sikh community should have complete freedom to practice and profess its religion as per the constitution”.The SAD President said the learned judges of the apex court should take note of the Sikh maryada which stipulated that wearing a turban was an intrinsic part of the Sikh religion and culture.
“The turban, as well as four other articles of faith, has been handed over to us by our tenth Guru – Sri Gobind Singh ji who created the Khalsa panth. Everyone knows how the history of India changed after that. How a small number of Sikhs stood up to the might of the Mughal empire and fought against tyranny and justice. This tradition continues through the ages to present times. Be it the battle of Saragarhi to the fight for independence to protecting the sovereignty of our country, Sikhs have always sacrificed their blood to protect their faith as well as their country. They did all this without wearing helmets. I don’t understand why they should be asked now to cast away their turbans and wear helmets for a cycling competition”, he added.Stating that Sikh sensibilities were being hurt by continuous references to whether the turban was mandatory for a Sikh, Mr Badal said the SAD would appeal to the central government to resolve this issue permanently so that Sikhs were not harassed in this context. “No Sikh should be asked such a question in independent India which has seen a Sikh becoming Prime Minister besides serving as a chief justice and even as army chiefs. Doing so reveals a deficit in understanding our religious sensitivities and historical traditions”, he added.