Poland bows to Sikh demand on turban row

Commandant of the Airport Security Wieslaw Raban told Polish TV Wednesday morning that the proposal has been agreed upon with immediate effect and orders have been issued. Raban asked the Sikh community for their support to comply with the rules and regulations as decided by the European Union.

Sikhs in Poland were unhappy as they had been told to remove their turbans for security reasons at the airports. This had been going on for the past three months. Though the Sikh travellers resented it, they reluctantly complied.

J.J. Singh, president of Polish Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee, told IANS: "The matter is very sensitive for Sikhs who reside and work in Poland. But this discrimination is not only against the Sikhs. The Orthodox Jews are also asked to remove their hats for security check."

"Even Polish nuns are asked to remove their scarves. In this age of global terrorism, a country like Poland whose forces are stationed in Afghanistan, is a marked state for the terrorists. We understand their concern. We have made them to understand that the Sikhs can be taken to a special room like nuns for security check-up," he added.

Shaminder Puri, who lives in Britain and France and who was once a student in Poland in the late 1960s, had started a crusade against the Polish Border Security Guards over the issue.

With the help of the Helsinki Foundation of Human Rights, Puri filed a case against the Polish authorities. He claimed that turban removal was a violation of human rights as it hurt the sensitivity of Sikh traditions.

Puri had also written to Indian Prime Minister Manmonhan Singh to enlist his support and had pleaded with him to raise the issue with his Polish counterpart. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk was in India on a three-day visit that started Sep 6.

Krzystof Szumski, director of Asia and Pacific desk at the foreign office here, had earlier told IANS: "We are fully aware of the sensitivity of Sikh sentiments and our effort is to make them realise the gravity of the situation."

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