Chandigarh, February 7
Even as Akal Takht and the SGPC continue to oppose helmets for Sikh soldiers, several Army veterans and books on Sikh history state that such helmets were in use during Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s rule also.
The Army already has a helmet for Sikh soldiers. Sikh maryada on mind, the Army spent on its research and design. The helmet is voluntary and not mandatory for Sikh soldiers. Maj Gen RS Shergill (retd)
“Sikhs - The Story of a People, their Faith and Culture”, published by Dorling Kindersley (a Penguin Random House company), has in a special section on weapons during Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s rule, shown a special helmet worn by Sikh soldiers.
The description with the photo of the helmet states that it is inlaid with gold and features a neck guard as well. The helmet is shaped and specially designed for Sikh warriors who rode into battle with their hair tied in a topknot.
Maj Gen RS Shergill (retd), adviser to the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), is a votary of the helmet for Sikhs. “A helmet for Sikh soldiers is already available with the Army. It was with Sikh maryada on mind that the Army spent on research and designing of a helmet especially for Sikhs. It is voluntary and not mandatory for Sikh soldiers.”
General Shergill said a bulletproof patka was already being used by the defence forces for protection, “In fact, the patka is so protective that many non-Sikhs also started wearing it under their helmet,” he said.
Col Jaibans Singh, who has prepared an overview of the need for a helmet for Sikhs, said the combat attire of Nihangs included a chakra (big bracelet) over the turban for protection against swords.
He said the combat headgear was already worn by Sikh soldiers. “In mechanised warfare, tanks and combat vehicles have radio headgear that fits on the head like a cap and has to be worn without a turban,” he said.
“Wearing a helmet is not a violation of Sikh maryada,” said General Shergill.
However, Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh maintains that the helmet is a “topi” and Sikhs don’t wear it as per maryada. SGPC president Harjinder Singh Dhami has also written to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh stating that the helmet is against the sanctity of the Sikh faith.
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