On September 1, 29-year-old Tandeep Singh went to the Vadapalani station to try out the newly installed Chennai Metro Rail and probably had the worst embarrassing experience of his life. Tandeep went through the routine security checks and left his baggage for scanning and walked into a passage where a scurity guard was screening people for things which are not allowed on the metro. Just as Tandeep stepped up for his turn to be scanned by the guard, he was asked to remove his turban for a security check.

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Now, such incidents are very commonly reported to have been taking place overseas with the members of the sikh community. However, one cannot really blame them as they are mostly unaware of the customs and traditions here in India. But coming this from someone who lives to be a part of the ‘Secular’ India is nothing else but shameful. For any Sikh living on this planet his turban for him is the most pious and reverend thing. According to the Sikh religion, Turban is something which they cannot take off whenever they like to as it is deeply associated with honour and pride of every Sikh. It is a symbol of their dignity and respect.

A Sikh boy has a turban tied over his head during a gathering for World Turban Day at the Gurdwara Pipli Sahib Sikh shrine in Amritsar on April 13, 2010. Indian Sikhs celebrated World Turban Day on April 13 to demonstrate the importance of retaining the headgear rather than adopting Western-style haircuts. The Sikh religious headgear is a piece of cloth about eight metres (26.4 feet) long and is carefully pleated over untrimmed hair. AFP PHOTO / NARINDER NANU (Photo credit should read NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)
Every Sikh boy when enters maturity gets turban tied with a ritual at Gurudwara called ‘Dastaarbandhi’ to symbolise that now he will forever honour his turban and it will be a part of his life to mark his dignity and respect.

And so, Tandeep contacted the officials who assured him that the matter will be looked into

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The whole incident in Tandeep’s words is explained below:

Dear Chennai Metro Rail

Now I may not look like it, but I’m a true blue Chennaiite. (Madarasi to most of India). I have spent the most part of my life in this city. This city has been a home for me and my family. I’m really glad Chennai is finally getting a metro rail network. I never had the chance to use the current line, until late last night.

I was really looking forward to it, having experienced Delhi Metro for the past 8 months and seeing how well maintained it is. First off I’m really happy with the way the station and the train is maintained. Good job on that, it looks like an absolute world class facility.

My main gripe and complaint is with the security check at the metro. Now after doing all the scans, the security person points at my turban and asks me to remove my cap. I was shocked. This is not the first time something like this has happened to me, unfortunately.

Dear Chennai Metro RailNow I may not look like it, but I’m a true blue Chennaiite. (Madarasi to most of India).

Let me tell you I’ve traveled in and around USA as well and I’ve never been asked to take my turban off. However this ridiculous request is made only in India. I’m shocked and appalled by this. I thought Chennai has actually changed and finally we are moving on as a city and be more accepting of different cultures and races.

I don’t blame the security guy for this instance, it is nothing but pure ignorance. CMRL you are at fault here, you need to educate your staff more about such issues. I was in two minds to throw a raging fit there and make a scene. I refrained from doing so, because that is what my culture, my faith teaches me to do. To be patient and understanding with the ignorant.

I request you to look into this matter and educate your staff. I’m also tagging some influential people from the Chennai sikh community. This issue must be looked into right away. It is bad enough Chennai as a city has such an unfriendly reputation from most of India. It’s time to be more welcoming and accepting. This will only benefit the city, improve your rail traffic and benefit us and the country in the long run.

— with Apne Sardar Chennai.

 

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