Sikh haircut erupts into religious war
August 24 2006 at 03:04PM
New Delhi - Lawmakers disrupted the Indian parliament and angry members of the minority Sikh community staged street protests on Thursday after a Sikh boy's hair was cut forcibly, witnesses said.
Uncut hair covered by a turban is an article of faith of the Sikh religion, founded more than 500 years ago in the northern Indian region of Punjab.
Protests began in northern India this week after six teenagers were accused of forcibly cutting the hair of a Sikh boy in Jaipur city, capital of Rajasthan state.
The six boys were apparently upset about the Sikh boy's friendship with a local girl, police said.
"This is painful and we don't accept it," said Rana Gurjeet Singh, a Sikh member of parliament, as lawmakers accused the Rajasthan government of failing to protect religious minorities.
The incident has led to demonstrations by Sikhs in Rajasthan, Punjab and New Delhi, with some men belonging to the community brandishing sacred swords in the streets.
On Wednesday, Sikhs in Punjab forced shops to close and stopped buses in protest.
"This attack caused me a lot of pain. It is an attack on the Sikhs and I want justice," Indrapreet Singh, the victim, told a local TV channel.
One of the six boys accused of being involved in the incident was arrested on Thursday in New Delhi. It was not clear what the charges were.
Sikhs constitute nearly two percent of mainly Hindu India's 1,1 billion population.
- Additional reporting by Geetinder Garewal in Chandigarh
Jaipur tense after Sikh boy beaten up, hair cut
Jaipur, Aug 22: Tension prevailed here after a group of youths allegedly beat up a Sikh boy and trimmed his hair, prompting hundreds of members of the community to hit the streets.
Additional police force has been deployed to maintain law and order and the situation remained tense but under control, Additional Superintendent of Police Sanjay Shrotiya told PTI.
17-year-old Indrapeet Singh was allegedly waylaid by six youths who dragged him to a deserted place and forcibly trimmed his hair besides beating him up, according to the FIR lodged by Singh's parents with the Gandhi Nagar police station late last night.
The youths later dumped Singh at a separate location from where he returned home. Jealousy over the closeness of Singh with a girl in a love affair involving one of the youths is said to be the reason behind the assault.
Meanwhile, outraged at the incident, hundreds of Sikhs blocked key roads and marched to the local Central School demanding suspension of classes and to the Gururdwara in Rajapark locality urging shopkeepers to down their shutters, Shrotiya said.
A hunt is on for the absconding youths.
Meanwhile, Inderpreet, a student of class 12 in the Kendriya Vidhyalaya here, claimed that yesterday's incident was in retaliation to a month-old eveteasing bid by some youths, who he stopped from harassing a girl.
The youths had beat him up after the eve-teasing incident and an FIR was lodged in this connection but nothing came of it, Inderpreet said.
"Yesterday as I was returning home, six masked youths dragged me into a car from right outside my school, beat me up and then cut my hair," he said.
"I was then thrown by the roadside," Inderpreet said recalling his ordeal.
Asked if yesterday's incident had any connection with the eveteasing a month ago, he said it was possible "since the last time the boys had threatened me that I will have to bear the consequances if I came in their way." He demanded that his tormentors be immediately arrested.
Meanwhile, business establishments in the Sikh-dominated areas of the city remained closed to protest the incident and nearly hundred members of the community gathered in the Raja park Gurudwara, where the women organised a 'keertan' ceremony.
Heavy security was deployed at Raja Park and Jawahar Nagar area, police said.
However, no arrests have so far been made in the case, they said. --- PTI