Sikhs express ire on being asked to remove turbans at Rome airport

New Delhi, Aug.10 (ANI): A Sikh delegation returned to India on Saturday and expressed their ire about being asked to remove their turbans at Rome Airport.

Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) President Manjit Singh GK and other delegation members were told to remove their turbans during a security check at Rome Airport on the night of August 6, but refuse to do so. They also decided not to board their Dubai-bound Emirates flight.

Ironically, the delegation was returning after attending a turban awareness day event organised by a Europe-based TV channel and felt the removal of turbans in the name of a security check in foreign countries is a direct assault on Sikh identity.

"The day we checked into the Rome Airport and went for the security check, the security officials first checked us physically. They asked us to remove our belts and shoes and we accordingly removed them. Then they asked us to remove our hats for which we answered back saying this is not a hat this is "pagadi" (turban) and we cannot remove it. They started arguing with us and forced us to remove it. They pestered not only me but also my other five team members and I strictly denied. After the denial from our side, they asked us to wait and mentioned that we won't be allowed to board the flight unless we follow their orders," Manjit Singh GK said.

Previously, the President of the Indian Overseas Congress, Karamjit Singh Dhillon, along with 10 other Sikhs were forced to remove their turbans at Rome Airport in February 2011.

Amritinder Singh, golfer Jeev Milkha Singh's coach, was also forced to remove his turban on two occasions - May 15, 2011 and May 23, 2011 at Milan Airport.

Following these two incidents and strong protests by Sikhs and the Indian government in 2011, Italian government had declared that Sikhs will not have to remove their turbans at airports for security screening.

Sikh religion requires followers to grow their hair and wear a turban. (ANI)

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