UNITED SIKHSWinner of the Sikhs and Charities Award
March 31, 2011
17th chet (Samvat 543 Nanakshahi)
Press Release
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UNITED SIKHS Files Criminal Complaint Against Punjab Police For Removal of Sikh's Turban:

Sikhs Seek Concrete Measures from Governments of Panjab and India to Ensure that the Punjab Police Uphold Religious Freedom

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • UNITED SIKHS
    • Files a criminal complaint before the Mohali Judicial Magistrate against Punjab Police for removing a Sikh youth's turban near the PCA Stadium, Mohali on 28th March 2011. The Magistrate has ordered the Police to submit a report on the incident on 16th April 2011.
    • Writes to Chief Justice of India and the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to take suo moto action against the errant police officers and to order a reform of the Punjab Police Rules to protect religious freedom.
    • Writes to the Indian Prime Minister, Home Minister and the Panjab Chief Minister and Home Minister seeking a public statement, condemning this egregious  police action and to ensure that those responsible for such actions are held accountable both on a local and national level and seeking a reform of the Punjab Police Rules to protect religious freedom.
    • Organises a petition ( http://unitedsikhs.org/petitions/petition.php?id=16 ) urging the Global Sikh Community and members of society who uphold the values of freedom of religion, thought, and belief  to condemn the action of the errant police officers in Mohali, Panjab, by signing a petition seeking judicial and governmental intervention to end institutional bigotry in the Punjab Police. Petition may be signed here
    • Errant police officers suspended yesterday but Sikhs demand a full inquiry to establish how institutional bigotry in the Punjab Police can be eliminated

Mohali, Panjab, India: UNITED SIKHS has filed today a criminal complaint with the Mohali Judicial Magistrate First Class about the willful public removal of a Sikh's Turban by a Punjab Police officer, who said he was acting on the instructions of a police superintendent. The Magistrate has ordered the Police to respond with a report on the next hearing date, 16th April 2011. This incident that has hurt the religious sentiments of the global Sikh Community, is an affront to a community that considers Panjab as its homeland and the birthplace of its religion.

The incident in question took place on March 28, 2011 near the PCA stadium, Mohali, Panjab. A Sikh youth, participating in a peaceful sit-in staged by retrenched rural veterinary pharmacists and employees, was pulled aside by police officials and his Turban was forcibly removed without cause. The police official responsible for the act is a Mohali Phase VIII Station House Officer (SHO), Sub-Inspector Kulbhushan, and he said he acted on orders from Mohali Superintendent of Police (SP)- Pritam Singh to remove the turban of the Sikh individual who had requested that his turban not be touched. A video of the incident may be watched at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONYV8hUKN3Y
 
The Sikh youth requesting the SP not to touch his Turban.   The SHO of Mohali Phase VIII Police Station, Sub Inspector Kulbhushan, removes and holds the Turban of the Sikh individual

UNITED SIKHS' Chandigarh based lawyer, Sukhwinder Singh, filed the complaint with Judicial Magistrates First Class, Mohali, Panjab, under Section 295 A of the Indian Penal Code on grounds that the Punjab Police officer's removal of the Sikh's turban was a deliberate and malicious act, intended to outrage religious feelings of Sikhs by insulting their religious beliefs.
"The Sikh Community is fighting for justice and recognition as a distinct entity globally amidst challenges to the wearing of the turban post 9/11. However, it least expects disrespect to its articles of faith in Panjab, where most Sikhs originate from," said Mejindarpal Kaur, UNITED SIKHS Legal Director.
In response to mounting pressure, the Panjab Home Minister, Sukhbir Singh Badal,  has announced suspension of the two officers and a magisterial inquiry into the incident. The action is however not enough to redress the issue of protecting the Sikh identity in Punjab. Earlier this year, the Chandigarh Police removed the turban of another Sikh who was a pillion rider in order to prove his Sikh identity, as evidenced in the video from a newschannel at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lYZ1e4CL44
"The Punjab Police officers cannot be allowed to get off lightly with a suspension. This incident is not isolated and there is a need for a root and branch reform of the Punjab Police Rules with respect to protecting religious freedom, " Mejindarpal added.
UNITED SIKHS urges you to sign the petition for religious freedom in Panjab here
You may read a previous press release on our advocacy actions for religious freedom at http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-27-02-2011-00.html


Issued by:

Sundeep Kaur
UNITED SIKHS
law-global@unitedsikhs.org,
+91 9560645010; +91 9779957973

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Click Here to download the Punjabi translation of this Press Release.

Petition For Protecting Religious Freedom in Panjab, India 
 http://unitedsikhs.org/petitions/
petition.php?id=16

Please take a moment to sign and forward the petition to friends and family - spread the word. We will be presenting the signatures to the concerned authorities in 2 weeks time.

 

Protect Our Identity (POI) is an ongoing international campaign launched by UNITED SIKHS in August 2010 . It focuses on the need to protect the Sikh community's right to express its religious identity.  Initiatives under the POI campaign include:
 


UNITED SIKHS is currently looking for enthusiastic volunteers who are willing to spread the message of the campaign within their own communities. To join or contribute to the campaign, volunteer or donate to UNITED SIKHS.

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