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SGPC to issue white paper on turban issue
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 27
Dubbing the ban on the wearing of turban in schools of France as an attack on religious freedom of the Sikhs, Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, said today that a white paper would be issued by the SGPC, which would highlight all aspects relating to the turban and its ban in France.

At the same time, Jathedar Vedanti sounded optimistic that the problem facing the French Sikhs could be solved as was in case of Sikhs of some other countries, which had lifted ban on the wearing of turban by Sikhs while on work in factories and even in the armed forces.

Jathedar Vedanti, while talking to mediapersons after attending a seminar on the ban on turban in educational institutes of France, said the ban was virtually an attack on religious freedom of the Sikhs as turban was their religious symbol. “It is in violation of spirit of UN conventions which say that everybody has the right to religious freedom. Moreover, turban is not a cultural symbol of Sikhs. Sikhs cannot live without turban,” said Jathedar Vedanti, who was accompanied by former SGPC chief Kirpal Singh Badungar, Youth Akali Dal leader Parminder Pal Singh Khalsa and the Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib.

Jathedar Vedanti suggested that Sikh intellectuals of different countries should be involved in the solution-finding process and a committee be formed so that a solution to the vexed problem be hammered out. “We should knock at every door. Moreover, the SGPC would be asked to prepare a detailed white paper on the issue. The SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur has already met Foreign Minister Natwar Singh on the issue and we hope that a solution is round the corner. I suggest that all Sikh bodies, leaders, legal luminaries and intellectuals should join hands and discuss the problem faced by the Sikhs in France by organising seminars and meetings. It is the directive of the 10th Sikh Guru that no Sikh should be doing anything without covering his head and hence we must do the utmost to save the honour of the Sikhs,” said Jathedar Vedanti.

He, however, could not clarify as to why some Congress leaders had stated time and again that the problem had been sorted out when, in fact, the issue remains unsolved so far. “For many things newsmen are also responsible,” he said.

Mr Parminder Pal Singh Khalsa, senior Youth Akali Dal leader, said the Sikhs would approach the UN if the French Government failed to address the concern of the Sikhs. Others who spoke included Giani Baldev Singh, former Punjab Vidhan Sabha Speaker Surjit Singh Minhas, Prof Manjit Singh, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar and Mr Pal Singh from France.

On the other hand, the Akhand Kirtani Jatha, headed by Bhai Ram Singh, blamed that no party had taken a clear stand on the turban issue.

In a separate statement, Bhai Baldev Singh, the deputy chief of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha International, said an ultimatum of one month should be given to the Centre Government so that it could find out a solution to the problem. Otherwise, the five Sikh high priests should give a call to the Sikhs to start a “Dharmyudh Morcha” on the issue.

The Shabad Guru Mission, in a separate statement, suggested that since intricacies had crept in the whole issue, efforts should be made to find out a solution under the guidance of Akal Takht and the SGPC. “The French government should be contacted by a committee of Sikh intellectuals,” said a press note issued by the mission.

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