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Sikh Man who fought Legal Battle Against France’s Turban Ban Returns to Punjab

May 28, 2018 | By

Chandigarh: In March 1991, Ranjit Singh (now 82) left for France in search for better prospects. Twenty-seven years on, he is back in Indian subcontinent, having lost subsistence allowance for refusing to forego his identity as a turbaned Sikh.

Ranjit Singh, who belongs to Ambala (Haryana) had refused to get himself photographed without Dastar for renewal of his status as a refugee. Notably, France has banned wearing any sort of visible ‘religious symbols’ for the purpose of photographs on public identity cards. Ranjit Singh fought a legal battle with French authorities challenging the controversial ban.

Ranjit Singh [File Photo]

As per media reports, Ranjit Singh was first issue an identity card in 1991 with a Dastar (as at that time no such ban was there). The card was due for renewal in 2001. The French authorities were insisting that Ranjit Singh must remove his Dastar in order to get himself photographed. As Ranjit Singh refused to get himself photographed bareheaded the authorities blocked his subsistence allowance. After loosing legal fight in a French Tribunal he moved to European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) but ECHR also dismissed his petition. He moved to UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC). On 12 June, 2012 the UNHRC concluded that French ban on Dastar had resulte din violation of religious freedom of Ranjit Singh. He was 76 years old at that time.

Even six years after the UNHRC verdict, the French authorities did not restore his social security allowance. As a result Ranjit Singh decided to return to the sub-continent in order to stay with his son in Pathankot (Punjab).

“What is the use of luxury once you lose your religious identity? I am a born Sikh and will prefer to die with this identity. This is not a battle of ego but of religious faith, which is above all worldly pleasures,” The Tribune quotes Ranjit Singh.

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