SGPC takes up France turban ban issue with PM

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Amritsar, Mar 24: The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) today appealed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take necessary steps to remove ''misconceptions and misunderstandings'' against Sikhs the world over, especially in France and the US, where students of the community have been shown the door for wearing turbans and carrying 'kirpans' (small swords).

In a memorandum to the Prime Minister, SGPC president Avtar Singh also demanded the management of the bus service from Amritsar to Nankana Sahib, to be launched by Dr Singh today, be handed over to it.

Presenting the memorandum outside the Golden Temple here, the SGPC president pointed out that the Sikhs have their own distinct identity and due recognition should be given to their religious symbols.

The memorandum referred to the ban imposed by the French government barring Sikh students from wearing turbans IN schools in that country.

The SGPC also said that since the bus had been launched exclusively for pilgrimage at the Golden Temple and Nankana Sahib on demand of the Sikh community, instead of the government or its agency, the management of the service should be entrusted upon the committee.

The SGPC has also demanded opening of a visa office in Amritsar for the benefit of the pilgrims. The memorandum also demanded that a 'corridor' should be made available to Sikh devotees who wished to pay obeisance at Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan where the first Sikh Guru Nanak Dev breathed his last.

The shrine at Kartarpur Sahib is located close to the Indo-Pakistan border in the Dera Baba Nanak sector of adjoining Gurdaspur district and is visible from the border.

The SGPC also urged the Prime Minister to appoint members of the Sikh community on the panels and censor boards of films, television and text book boards in consultation with the SGPC. This had become necessary as ''Sikhs have been projected as objects of mockery in films and television serials and even Sikh Gurus have not been spared in text books and material prescribed for students,'' it said.

They also demanded the restoration of all items including rare manuscripts and history books to the SGPC which were taken away by the security forces from the Sikh Reference Library inside the Golden Temple during 'Operation Bluestar'.

It referred to the depleted state of historical gurdwaras in Bangladesh related to Guru Nanak and urged Dr Singh to grant permission to the SGPC for deputing granthis and sewadars in consultation with the Bangladesh government.

The memorandum also demanded that the SGPC should be allowed to perform the 'kar sewa' of these gurdwaras.

The SGPC had earlier announced to boycott the flag-off ceremony saying that it was a Congress rally.

UNI

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