Plan to buy helmets for turbaned Sikh soldiers sparks row | India News

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AMRITSAR/ NEW DELHI: The defence ministry’s recent proposal to buy ballistic helmets designed for turbaned Sikh soldiers and a Canadian-Indian mom’s invention of a multisport helmet for Sikh children have been rejected by the Akal Takht jathedar as well as Sikh organisations and political parties, calling such modern headgear “unacceptable” under the tenets of Sikhism.
Sikhism requires its male followers to wear a turban and beard and keep their hair uncut. Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh forbade Sikhs from wearing helmets, saying in a video message Thursday that these are against Sikh code.
“A dastar (turban) adorned by a Sikh on his head is not just a 5m to 7m piece of cloth, but a crown given by the gurus. . . and an emblem of Sikh identity,” he said. Any attempt to cover “a Sikh’s identity with a ‘top’ (cap/helmet) would be seen as an attempt to finish their identity”, he said, while reaffirming turbaned Sikh soldiers’ valour in battle, especially in World War II when they a British attempt to introduce helmets for them.
The reactions followed the defence ministry’s tender or RFP (request for proposal) for 12,730 ballistic helmets for Sikh troopers on January 5. The helmet will cover the entire head, unlike the bulletproof ‘patkas’ that Sikh soldiers wear.
The proposal specifies 8,911 of the indigenous helmets should be “large”, with the rest 3,819 being “extra-large”. SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal called the helmets an attack on Sikh religious identity and said the party would protest the move.



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