'Racist' Claim As Turban Is Forced Off

February 2, 2007

Source: Nelson News


Newsagent Arpan Singh (21), who was accused of having stolen goods at his shop on Colne Road, claims the custody officer's orders were racist.

As a central part of their religion and as a symbol of spirituality, Sikhs do not cut their hair and wear it on top of their head in a bun covered by a turban. It is mandatory for all adult males. The turban is the outward manifestation of a man's religion and makes the Sikh instantly recognisable.

But on this occasion Mr Singh says he was not wearing the full turban, which is like a long scarf wound around the head, but the "patka", a small covering 30cms square, over the hair and held in place by an elastic band.

The incident happened on Friday, January 19th, at teatime.

After being arrested at his shop, Mr Singh was taken to the custody suite at Burnley Police Station, where, when requested, he took off his shoes, some friendship bands, his necklace and the waist cord from his tracksuit trousers.

He said: "I tried to explain to the officer that it was part of my religion that I did not take off my turban, but he did not want to know and kept talking to other officers. He said that I had no choice but to take it off and feeling intimidated I did so in front of all the other people, who were laughing. He said I also had to take the elastic band out of my hair and let my hair down. I felt humiliated."