Anmol Singh, victim of discrimination in Doha, plays with his turban on at Baru Sahib
BARU SAHIB (District Sirmore, Himachal Pradesh), Sept. 10, 2014:
The first phase of Kalgidhar Society’s protest against World Basketball Federation’s (FIBA) discriminatory behaviour towards Sikh players of Indian teams drew to a close today with a vigorous game played by turban-wielding students of the Society’s Akal Academy in the lap of the Himalayas here.
The highlight of the peaceful protest was the participation of Anmol Singh, member of India’s U-18 basketball team who was compelled by FIBA officials to remove his turban (patka
) during a match at Doha in Qatar on August 20. The 6 feet 9 inches-tall international player’s skills on the basketball court enthralled hundreds of students and staff belonging to the Society’s university, engineering and nursing colleges, and school here.
Similar protest matches have been held over the last few days at the Society’s 128 other Akal Academies spread across the hinterland of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
Kalgidhar Society, a charitable organization focused on promoting education and social reform mainly in rural areas, had taken up the cudgels against FIBA after two Sikh players were forced to remove their turbans, an article of their faith, in China recently. The same behaviour was meted out to Anmol Singh later in Qatar.
Apart from approaching FIBA and basketball officials in India, Kalgidhar Society filed an online petition against FIBA through Change.org on July 26. The petition has been supported by around 68,000 persons from across the globe so far. Sports legends like Milkha Singh, Bishen Singh Bedi and eminent personalities from music and culture like Daler Mehndi, Yo Yo Honey Singh etc. too have backed the campaign.
Commenting on controversy, Anmol Singh said, “I was shocked by the discriminatory behaviour of FIBA’s officials at Doha. It is a pity that FIBA continues to be adamant despite the global protest. US Congressmen have also pointed out that no such discrimination happens in American football. How can a turban hurt anybody?”
Kalgidhar Society’s head Baba Iqbal Singh, 89, who was agriculture director of Himachal Pradesh government previously, said, “Rules are meant to conduct games harmoniously not to divide people. If we see the divine in every being, there will be peace and brotherhood which are desperately needed in the modern world. We should be empathetic to the sensitivities and feelings of all. This can put an end to all quarrels, controversies and wars.”
However, Kalgidhar Society remains apprehensive of FIBA’s ultimate decision on the matter. Commenting from the US, the Society’s spokesperson Ravinder Pal Singh Kohli stated, “FIBA has so far displayed a very adamant stand. We will take our movement to its logical conclusion. If FIBA refuses to withdraw its rules hurting the religious sentiments of the Sikhs, then we will be forced to renew the protest agitation with revived vigour.”
Protest Pictures from Akal Academy, Baru Sahib
Protest Pictures from Akal Academy, Muktsar
Protest Pictures from Akal Academy, Kauriwara
Protest Pictures from Akal Academy, Bhai Desa
Protest Pictures from Akal Academy, Balbehra
Protest Pictures from Akal Academy, Gomtipul
Protest Pictures from Akal Academy, Dhindsa
Protest Pictures from Akal Academy, Cheema
Protest Pictures from Akal Academy, Bhadaur
Protest Pictures from Akal Academy, Kajri
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