Turban abuse in Punjab: Sikhs want police officers charged with blasphemy

Turban abuse in Punjab: Sikhs want police officers charged with blasphemy April 2, 2011

SIKHS worldwide have expressed outrage over an incident in Punjab which resulted in a police officer snatching a turban off the head of a young protester.
The incident, according to this report, took place on March 28 when pharmacists from Punjab gathered in Mohali for a peaceful sit-in. Punjab police first charged the gathering with canes, and women were beaten mercilessly. Senior officers then ordered the police to forcibly remove turbans of Sikhs who were present in the gathering.

The video below clearly shows a Sikh police officer order another police officer to forcibly remove the turban of one protester.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3vBjBHZ_fI After the incident, the two police officers were suspended, but various Sikh organisations jointly held a protest march in Mohali in which they rejected the suspensions as too lenient, and demanded that they should be booked for blasphemy and for intentionally using criminal force to dishonor a person.

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  • MrGronk

    A dis-turbance?
    (Thank you, I’m here all night)

  • Garlic

    They should not be charged with ‘blasphemy’. How about racial and religious abuse? Under English and Welsh law Sikhs are counted as a racial group, if I remember rightly. Not so in Indian law?
    God wasn’t insulted by this action; the people who had items of their clothing removed were. This should be dealt with by recoursing to the treatment of the beings we can actually see were being disrespected instead of the skyfairy.

  • Albie

    I think an assualt charge would be sufficient. That way the law doesn’t treat the incident more seriously because religion is involved.
    Race shouldn’t even come into the equation. Race and religion are separate, however loud the religious scream racism whenever they don’t get their own way.

  • Graham Martin-Royle

    If they are to face charges, the charge should be assault not blasphemy, that should never be a crime.

  • tony e

    @Graham M-R,
    Agreed, blasphemy should never be classed as a crime. The police involved in removing the turban are knowingly participating in a deliberate act of antagonism.
    It would be interesting to find out the religions of the policemen involved. If they are Hindu, around 80% of pop, they would know how insulting this was, and given past tensions, the signal it would send. Given the Punjab region’s closeness to Pakistan, it would be interesting to see if any of the police involved were Muslim.

  • L.Long

    Someone knocked another person’s hat of his head!!
    OMG!!! HOW AWFUL that my moronic religious fairy tale beliefs are so assaulted and dishonored!
    Grabbing a hat and removing it IS NOT assault because no person was touched, getting punched in the face is assault. Or if he was hit over the head which removed the hat – that is assault.
    So he should be brought up on blasphemy charges. The more it can be made to look sillier and sillier the sooner people will wake up and smell the load of BS. Woops! wont work I forgot we are talking about silly fairy tales where most people are bat-schite crazy already!

  • Daz

    I agree. this is assault, not ‘blasphemy’, and should be counted along with all the non-Sikhs who were also assaulted. It’s telling that the Sikhs seem to be treating that as more important than the cane-beatings which don’t seem to have been targeted at a particular creed.
    L.Long, if grabbing someone’s hat isn’t a crime, why did my mate get arrested for doing it to a policeman? (High spirits during a carnival, not as part of an assault or whilst resisting arrest or owt) 🙂

  • L.Long

    DAZ…Because your friend did it to an ass-hole with a gun!
    The ass-hole also had the legal power on his side.
    That don’t make it any more right then in this case.
    And he should have had a jury trial as they may have said that the cop was silly, at least if I was on the jury. But even better would be that the cop would have accepted an apology from your friend and ended it there.

  • Marcus

    Ah, the precious, fragile sensibilities of the religious. I just don’t get it. Just like I don’t get the fact that a whole bunch of lunatics in Afghanistan can go on the rampage and murder a whole bunch of innocent UN workers just because an equally deranged nutjob in Florida toasted a single copy of the koran. Any excuse for a good old fashioned bit of tribalisitic violence as far as I can see.
    And, sadly, the more I grow older the more I become convinced that human beings really are the most despicable creatures ever to walk the face of this ball. We might be clever enough to create the technology to take us to the moon and back, but our morals are stuck somewhere in the Stone Age. And it will be our undoing.

  • Daz

    Oddly, that ‘asshole with a gun’ didn’t happen to have a gun, this being the UK, and I never said he went to trial. He was let off with a warning.
    Knocking off someone’s hat is assault. Not as grievous as beating the crap out of them, sure, but still assault: I have the right to walk unhindered down the street without having pieces of my clothing or other possessions removed — even if not with the intention of theft — and wouldn’t be happy if such behaviour was officially excused merely by the fact that it didn’t cause me any pain or bruising.
    In the case of the Sikhs in this story, not only were they assaulted, but they were singled out on the basis of their creed. Doubly bad, though not ‘blasphemous’.

  • L.Long

    DAZ-After living in UK for 10yrs I should know better then to assume someone is speaking about USA. So it did end pleasantly, And yes I realize that ‘assault’ is defined differently in various locations.
    Another aspect of this story you & others have mentioned , in that the Sikhs were singled out and insulted by an indelicate act ON PURPOSE with knowledge of their religion. And then there are the SHADES of assault in that the one person substituted ‘assault’ for the hat hitting and knowing it was a sensitive issue.
    Yes I will concede that it was an insult and insensitive, but not assault. My test for assault is if your hat is knocked off and you punch the person in the face for it, and in court will ‘self defense’ work as a plea?

  • Daz

    “if your hat is knocked off and you punch the person in the face for it, and in court will ‘self defense’ work as a plea?”
    Ouch! Good one. I’d say that both were guilty at first glance. Possible mitigating factor for the person whose hat was knocked off would be if the person knocking it off did so heatedly, as provocation, maybe as part of an ongoing bullying campaign, etc etc. There’s much in the way of grey-area here.
    As regards whether it’s assault or not; whatever you call it, there surely has to be some legal recognition of a person’s right not to be harassed in such a manner, merely for having the temerity to walk down the road wearing a hat or a turban that’s easily knocked off ‘in fun’, by anyone who feels like it.
    BTW, “L.Long” — Bob Heinlien connection? If so, Methuselah’s Children — Great book. Time Enough For Love — Ugh! </book-geekiness>

  • NeoWolfe

    A friend of mine owns a .22 caliber single action revolver (5 rounds) that mounts in his belt buckle. If I were a police officer taking someone into custody, and he was wearing a Sikh clown hat, I damn sure would remove it to see what was hiding under it. It’s not assault, it’s not blasphemy, it’s law enforcement trained on how to survive while doing their job.

  • L.Long

    Essentially there is not enough detail to get a good feel for the ‘assault’.
    If the cop is being an ass then ‘assault’ or ‘blasphemy(which I hate)’ may have some validity.
    If the cop is trying to do his job with a obstinate twit, then the ‘victim’ is the ass. As NeoWolfe points out.
    BTW: yes DAZ it is Bob’s character.

  • Yes, a charge of straightforward assault would suffice. Talking of religious costumes, what do you make of the following? http://durotrigan.blogspot.com/2011/04/amusing-uaf-picture-from-edl-blackburn.html

  • barriejohn

    Forcibly removing someone’s hat without reason is assault; you don’t need to actually strike them. However, if the police had reason to believe that they might have been concealing weapons, that is a different matter. As for “blasphemy” – how ridiculous!

  • Don

    In the video the police officer did not check the turban for weapons. Having pulled it off he did not even glance at it.
    It seemed to me that it was a deliberate act to humiliate by focusing on a religious symbol.
    “if your hat is knocked off and you punch the person in the face for it, and in court will ‘self defense’ work as a plea?”
    Hmm. I suspect that if someone just jumped out at me and knocked my hat off, if my instant and instinctive response was that I was being assaulted and I responded with a punch then I would probably be OK. If I brooded about it and decided a smack in the mouth was an appropriate response, not so much.

  • uzza

    ‘women were beaten mercilessly” with canes –> no objection
    hats were removed –> worldwide outrage