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Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) President Harjinder Singh Dhami on Tuesday raised strong objections to media reports of New York Police Department (NYPD) adopting a policy that stops Sikh policemen from growing a beard.
The SGPC chief raised the issue in a letter addressed to India’s Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, also a Sikh.
“Being the constitutional and representative organization of the Sikh community in India. we would like to submit on the subject matter that the initiated Sikhs do not cut hair and keeping hair unshorn for a lifetime is one of the commitments towards the Sikh religion,” Dhami wrote in the letter.
He has also asked the involvement of the Union Minister of External Affairs, S Jaishankar in the matter.
“Wrote to Indian Ambassador to USA @SandhuTaranjitS & Union MEA Shri @DrSJaishankar, to raise a strong objection to discriminatory policy of @NYPDnews of forcing Sikh troopers to cut hair & protect the rights of Sikh community”, he posted on X (formerly known as Twitter) along with the letter.
Dhami said the NYPD policy of prohibiting a Sikh police officer from growing a beard for safety reasons is irrational.
“It has come to our notice from the recent media reports that the New York Police Department (NYPD) of the United States of America (USA) has adopted a policy to bar Sikh troopers working with it from growing facial hair, i.e. beard, on the basis that it posed a safety issue regarding the use of a gas mask. Even if a Sikh trooper has a fully grown beard, the gas mask can easily be worn by tying the unshorn beard while serving on such a duty. An example of this is the Sikh soldiers serving in the Indian Army, one of the world’s top military forces,” the SGPC chief wrote.
“By adopting such a discriminatory policy, the Sikhs are being forced away from their religion by NYPD, thus also limiting employment opportunities for the initiated/practicing Sikh community in a democratic country like USA. As per the Sikh Rehat Maryada (Sikh code of conduct) of Sri Akal Takht Sahib, the highest temporal authority of Sikhs at Amritsar in Punjab, India, an initiated/practicing Sikh has to mandatory keep five symbols of faith i.e. kirpan (sword), karha (iron bracelet), kes (unsborn hair), kangha (wooden comb), and kachhehra (prescribed shorts),” Dhami said.
He said the contribution of Sikhs to the overall prosperity of the United States cannot be overlooked. From American politics to security, technology, and science, Sikhs have made significant contributions via their talent, hard work, and honesty, he added.
“In a country like the USA, the religious beliefs and customs of Sikhs are no longer a matter of introduction and the community has the right to practice their religion. In view of the above facts, we request you kindly raise a strong objection to your counterparts in the USA, to the said policy of NYPD of forcing Sikh troopers to cut their hair,” the SGPC chief said.
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