New Delhi: The Akal Takht and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee have lodged a protest against the Indian Army’s proposal to purchase nearly 13,000 helmets for Sikh soldiers.
Male adherents of Sikh faith are required to wear a turban.
The Hindustan Times has reported that the bodies have asked the Union government to withdraw the decision, citing that the turban is the singular symbol of Sikh identity and must not be replaced by a helmet.
Times of India has reported that the defence ministry released a tender or request for proposal for 12,730 ballistic helmets for Sikh soldiers on January 5. Unlike the bulletproof ‘patkas’ that Sikh soldiers now wear, these helmets aim to cover the whole head. The proposal notes that the helmets must be in large and extra-large sizes.
Akal Takht jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh has released a video message on this. In it, he has noted how efforts by British authorities to get Sikh soldiers to wear helmets in the World War II had been rejected too. “The turban is not a cloth, it is a crown which has been placed on the heads of Sikhs by Guru Sahib, and it is a symbol of our identity,” he said, according to HT.
Singh also noted that Sikh soldiers have fought several wars in turbans, including those in 1956, 1962 and 1971.
SGPC president Harjinder Singh Dhami has written to Union defence minister Rajnath Singh on the same topic. The move will affect Sikh pride, he stressed.