London: Sikhs in Britain will no longer face legal action for wearing turbans in majority of workplaces after the government announced a new set of rules on Thursday.
“Turban-wearing Sikhs will now have the right to choose not to wear head protection and will be exempt from legal requirements to wear a safety helmet in the majority of workplaces,” an official statement from the British government said.
Since 1989, Sikhs working in the construction industry have been exempted from rules requiring head protection but because of a legal loophole, those in less dangerous industries, such as those working in factories and warehouses, were not.
A new landmark clause was added to the Deregulation Bill 2015 to extend the existing exemption in the Employment Act to all workplaces.
“This change demonstrates that, whoever you are, whatever your background, and whatever industry you choose, if you work hard and want to get on in life, this government will be on your side,” Priti Patel, the Indian-origin minister for employment and Indian diaspora champion, was quoted as saying.
“As the prime minister’s Indian Diaspora Champion as well as employment minister, I’m delighted to be part of the government that has made this change. It makes me proud that Britain is the home of such a talented, ambitious and hardworking community,” she added.
As per the new rules, should an individual suffer injuries as a consequence of not wearing head protection, employers will be legally protected through the extension of limited liability.
“There are exclusions for emergency response services and the military, which apply only in hazardous operational situations when the wearing of a safety helmet is considered necessary,” the statement read.
This may include, for example, entering a burning building or those where protective clothing needs to enclose the whole body in situations such as bomb disposal, or dealing with hazardous materials like chemical leaks, biohazards or radiation.
This will not, however, bar Sikhs from the armed forces, police and fire services, and the new clause will make no blanket ban on participation by turban-wearing Sikhs. There are about 4,000 Sikhs in police and 230 across the armed forces.
Welcoming the new rules, Gurinder Singh Josan, spokesperson for Sikh Council, Britain, said: “We are pleased that parliament listened to our campaign and enabled this vital change in the law.”
“It will make a real difference to Sikhs in Britain by increasing the number of workplaces that turban wearing Sikhs can work in whilst maintaining their religiously mandated identity,” he added.
In today’s period, Sikhs in Pakistan are among the smallest minorities
Pakistan today uses blasphemy as a weapon against minorities and fellow Muslims alike, which is a crime that carries an involuntary death penalty
Mr. Singh heads a council representing the Sikhs in Pakistan
Aug 15, 2017: At the age of 11, Radesh Singh’s grandfather left his village in India’s Punjab province to move to Peshawar, which is bordered by Afghanistan in the far northwest of the country.
Pakistan wasn’t even a glint in the eye of its founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah in the year 1901 when the British ruled the Indian subcontinent and Peshawar held the promise of work and adventure.
It has been 70 years since the partition of India, which divided the subcontinent into majority Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan and led to one of the largest migrations in modern history.
Singh’s family have been waging a secessionist uprising in India ever since, demanding unmitigated sovereignty for India’s Punjab state where they command. Singh’s family is neither Hindu nor Muslim but Sikh, a religious minority in both countries. Feeling increasingly less at home on either side of the border, they have been victims of local Taliban violence in the recent years in Muslim Pakistan.
Singh’s grandfather would never return to his village, not even in 1947. Singh stated that poverty kept his grandfather in Peshawar, which was controlled by fiercely independent ethnic Pashtun tribesmen. He said, “It’s not easy to start over at zero when you have very little,” mentioned BBG Direct.
According to Singh, the enmity in the immediate aftermath of 1947 was slightly lower in the northwest. It was followed by decades of peace. The decision to stay in Pakistan appeared like a reliable option at the time.
The Sikhs had lived harmoniously for centuries alongside their Pashtun Muslim countrymen. Singh explains, Sikhs had a glorious history in the northwest. In the 18th century, they oversaw a dynasty headed by a Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh, whose capital was Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore. He rebuilt Peshawar’s infamous Bala Hisar Fort, an imposing walled fortress that some historians assume is as old as the city itself.
In today’s period, easily identifiable because of the colorful turbans and the surname Singh, Sikhs in Pakistan are among the smallest minorities. As indicated by the CIA Factbook, 3.6 percent of Pakistan’s 180 million people are non-Muslims which include Sikhs, Christians, and Hindus.
Singh asserted until 1984 Pakistan’s Hindus and Sikhs lived unitedly in northwest Pakistan. Their children married and worshipped together. But after the tragic assassination of India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards, the entire scene changed consequently.
“They (Hindus) cut all relations with us. They said Pakistani Sikhs are like all Sikhs everywhere. No difference. They said, ‘From now on, we will be separate from you”, Singh recalled.
Today Sikhs in Pakistan are contending with the government for possession of dozens of Sikh temples (Gurdwaras); however, they have succeeded to restore some of the buildings. The Pakistan government took over the buildings after 1947 and allowed the squatters to remain.
Once a vibrant Gurdwara attended by hundreds of Sikhs, it no longer resembled a house of worship but rather a sweeping courtyard. However, it was until now that two families called it the home, said Singh.
Singh who heads a council representing the Sikhs in Pakistan, said young Sikhs have been looking to leave as the homeland has begun to turn toward radical Islam.
“They want to go to another country, not to India or Pakistan. But every country eyes them with suspicion.,” he said.
He adds, “Even Indians see his Pakistani passport and question his intentions, suggesting he wants to agitate for Sikh secessionism, the battle that resulted in Indira Gandhi’s death and a dream still held by many Sikhs on both sides of the border.”
According to Singh, Pakistan’s slide into intolerance began when Pakistan’s military dictator Zia-ul Haq set the country on the course of Islamic radicalization in the late 1970s with the former Soviet Union’s invasion of neighboring Afghanistan. Jihad became a rallying cry to defeat the communists in Afghanistan.
Extremism aggravated after the 2001 intrusion of Afghanistan by a U.S.-led coalition, he proclaimed.
The tribal areas were steadily caught by Taliban and in 2013 several Sikhs were killed, their limbs cut. Singh said the brutality of the killings and the threats sent thousands abandoning Pakistan.
Pakistan today uses blasphemy as a weapon against minorities and fellow Muslims alike, which is a crime that carries an involuntary death penalty.
“That is why we have a fear in our hearts, that this law can be used against us,” he told.
“In the last nearly 40 years we have been facing the boom, boom (mimicking the sound of explosions) in every city of Pakistan,” said Singh. “In a long time we have not heard any sweet sounds in our Peshawar, but still we love our city.”
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