Sirsa urges Sushma to set up separate cell to deal with racial discrimination with Sikhs

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DW BUREAU / New Delhi: Punjab government advisor and Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC) general secretary Manjinder Singh Sirsa on Friday urged External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to set up a separate cell in her ministry comprising senior government officials and representatives of the Sikh community to deal with racial discrimination abroad.

Sirsa said this would put to an end the going racial discrimination of the members of the community abroad.

Upset over a report carried in media that Sikhs bearing their religious symbol ÔÇ£KirpanÔÇØ were denied entry in a departmental store by its staff in Toronto, Canada, he said they were point blank told not enter the store with ÔÇ£KirpanÔÇØ which amounted to gross racial discrimination.

He said as per reports, Harpal Singh Giri, who had been in Canada for the past 16 years, said he had never faced such a situation in the past.

Sirsa said carrying ÔÇÿKirpanÔÇÖ by Sikh is a religious symbol and a part of the communityÔÇÖs dress code which has been allowed under Article 25 of the Constitution of India where it is stated in no uncertain terms that

the wearing and carrying of Kirpan shall be deemed to be included in the profession of Sikh religion and the Union government must ensure that this right of the community is protected.

In a letter to Swaraj, he said that this was not an isolated incident and added that the reports of harassment of Sikhs continue pouring in from time to time and there is no end to these though the community has repeatedly protested to the Union government and countries of such occurrences.

In the similar circumstances, a Sikh Canadian comedian was forced to remove turban at San Francisco Airport and in this regard a letter was sent to the US Ambassador in India on April 21 this year but despite this no protection was provided to the Sikhs and they continue to face discrimination in Europe as well as in US and Canada.

He wrote to the Canadian High Commissioner to India to immediately take the necessary action and take up this matter with the Ministry/department concerned so that in future no such racial discrimination can be allowed in the above countries.

ÔÇ£We, in DSGMC, are an elected Sikh religious body and are answerable to the community if such discrimination persists,ÔÇØ Sirsa said, adding that setting up a high power body would help curb the menace of racial discrimination.

Sirsa said he had received number of calls from India and abroad since morning and by raking this issue he was only articulating the sentiments of the community.

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