April 1, 2011 | By Jaspal Singh
Vancouver, CANADA (March 31, 2011): Two police officers who tore off a Sikh’s turban on Monday during a peaceful rally by pharmacy students in Mohali, Punjab were suspended with pay. They should be fired, say leaders of the Canadian Sikh Coalition.
“The state security forces are stooges for a caste-focused central government,” said Moninder Singh, Spokesperson for CSC. “Since Article 25 of India’s constitution identifies all anti-caste religions founded in India as Hindu, the security forces attack religious symbols that show we are actually distinct. Video of the police attack shows that Sikhs respond with peaceful non-resistance even though the Indian state does all it can to publicly degrade their beliefs.”
The video, available on YouTube, shows a uniformed police officer roughly escorting a cooperative Sikh man as a clean-shaven officer tears off his turban. One of the most conspicuous emblems of a Sikh’s faith, the turban represented nobility for victims of caste discrimination. Religious freedom violations occur regularly in Punjab and other states of India. Recent examples include YouTube footage of uniformed officers in Orissa driving Christians out of a church with lathis and the death in mid-March of Sohan Singh, a Sikh arrested and held without charges for a week before allegedly dying from police torture.
Jitender Singh Grewal, Director of CSC (East), called the suspension given the two offending officers a “paid holiday.” State officials ordered a probe of SP Pritam Singh and SHO Kulbhushan Singh, the offending officers, but Grewal warned they will return to work without further repercussions once media attention fades. “These officers should be dismissed from their positions in disgrace and their supervisors investigated and then charged,” commented Grewal. “Tragically, a state that tolerates security forces who torture and murder minorities cannot be relied upon to prevent future intrusions on religious freedom.”
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