‘Damages Sikh Pride’: Religious bodies protest against Indian Army plan to purchase helmets

Soldiers of the Sikh Light Infantry during a Republic Day Parade. [Photo: WikiMedia/Antônio Milena.]

The Indian Army’s plan to buy approximately 13,000 helmets for Sikh soldiers has prompted a protest from the Akal Takht and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee in New Delhi. Male Sikh believers must cover their heads with a turban.

According to a report in the Hindustan Times, the organisations have demanded that the Union government reverse its decision, arguing that the turban is the only emblem of Sikh identity and should not be changed with a helmet.

According to the Times of India, the defence ministry published a procurement or call for proposals on January 5 for 12,730 ballistic helmets for Sikh soldiers. These helmets attempt to completely enclose the head, in contrast to the bulletproof “patkas” that Sikh soldiers already wear. The proposal specifies that extra-large and large sizes for the helmets are required.

Singh also noted that Sikh soldiers have fought several wars in turbans, including those in 1956, 1962 and 1971.

On the same subject, SGPC President Harjinder Singh Dhami wrote to Union Defense Minister Rajnath Singh. He emphasised that the action will damage Sikh pride.

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