The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today urged union home minister Rajnath Singh to grant citizenship to all Afghan Sikh and Hindu families who had taken refuge in India after fleeing persecution in Afghanistan, saying the country must come to the aid of all these displaced persons.A SAD delegation which met the Union home minister today in this regard, also urged him to examine and get a notification of the Union territory of Chandigarh making it mandatory for all Sikh women to wear helmets reversed. The delegation also submitted a list of Sikh detainees who are still languishing in various jails after the end of their jail terms to the Home minister to facilitate their release.The delegation, which included union food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, mps Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Prem Singh Chandumajra and Naresh Gujral besides former mp Tarlochan Singh and DSGMC president Manjit Singh GK, said there were around 35,000 Afghan Sikh and Hindu families who were currently living in India. The delegation apprised the home minister that these people had fled Afghanistan after the Taliban took control over the country in 1989 and also later in fits and bursts as and when their persecution became intolerable due to forced conversions and danger to their womenfolk.Briefing the home minister, Mrs Harsimrat Badal urged the home minister to grant passports to all these displaced persons besides rehabilitating them by offering a comprehensive package to them as was done in the case of Kashmiri Pundits as well as Sri Lankan Tamils.
Rajnath Singh assured to form a committee comprising Sikh representatives to examine the entire matter and make recommendations for resolving it.The SAD delegation also submitted a memorandum to the home minister briefing him about a notification issued by the Chandigarh administration making it mandatory for Sikh women to wear helmets. It apprised the minister that Sikh women were exempted from wearing helmets by even the Supreme Court which adjudicated on this issue on the basis of Clause 3 of the Motor Vehicles (Protective Headgears) Rules, 1980 which exempts Sikh women from wearing helmets. The delegation apprised the HM that the Chandigarh administration had changed the definition of Sikh women by substituting the words “or a woman” in the Rules to “a Sikh person (including women) wearing the turban”. It said as per Sikh rehat maryada it is not mandatory for Sikh women to wear a turban. It said this action had hurt the sentiments of the Sikh community and had even been condemned by the highest temporal seat of Sikhs – Shri Akal Takth and should be withdrawn immediately.The SAD delegation also urged Mr Rajnath Singh to direct the Sikkim government to ensure Sikhs residing in Punjabi Lane in Them Metor locality in Shillong following a land grant given to them by a Khasi tribal chieftain two hundred years back were not displaced arbitrarily.