Cigarette residue on frisking guards stirs Sikh inmates

Cigarette residue on frisking guards stirs Sikh inmates

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Authorities in Punjab are wary of an uncanny situation brewing over ‘third-hand smoke’ that is unsettling Sikh inmates on being frisked by security personnel on duty.

Sikhism prohibits consumption of cigarettes and tobacco. The touch of third-hand smoke, that implies residual of tobacco smoke clinging onto clothes, hands, skin, hair and other materials after the cigarette is snuffed, has been causing resentment among Sikh inmates lodged in various jails in border state Punjab.

On being touched as part of frisking, the residual of tobacco smoke gets onto the clothes and skin of Sikh jail inmates. Sikh bodies, seeking adequate safeguards to end this routine practice, rue claiming that majority of security personnel smoke cigarettes. The smoke residue remains with frisking personnel which is inadvertently passed onto Sikh jail inmates on being touched.

Sikh bodies have warned of resentment claiming the practice sacrilegious. Giani Harpreet Singh, the head priest of the Akal Tahkt, the supreme temporal seat of Sikhism, has urged the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandhak Committee (SGPC)- the Sikh body managing majority of historical Sikh shrines in the country, to intervene to stop the practice. Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel are deployed in large numbers in high security jails in Punjab.

Sikh bodies including the Damdami Taksal has warned of brewing resentment among Sikh inmates. The Taksal chief has sought the intervention of the government to ensure that the sentiments of the Sikhs are not ruptured. He has sought measures to ensure that adequate sensitization of security personal involved in frisking duties is carried out.

Touching the turban and body with third hand smoke leaves Sikh inmates unsettled as it leads to the violation of their religious sentiments. While the ideal way out to end the looming resentment is to filter in non-smokers for such duties, the organization has suggested that security personnel be asked to refrain from consumption of cigarettes and tobacco sometime before the drill of frisking is to begin in jails.