Helmets must for safety of Sikh troops: Experts

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GS Paul

Amritsar, January 14

Amid controversy over introducing the ‘ballistic helmets’ for Sikh soldiers by the Army, there are diverse opinions.

The Army has invited the ‘request for proposal for ballistic helmets’ from bidders. The requirement was for 12,730 ballistic helmets.

Of these, 8,911 should be of large size while 3,819 extra-large size. The helmets need to be of the central bulge design to suit the head size of Sikh troops.

Akal Takht and the SGPC have rejected the proposal terming it against the Sikh ‘rehat maryada’ and the unique identity granted by the Gurus.

No dress code

It is true that a turban cannot offer that much protection what a bullet-proof helmet could. I believe that it will not be a part of the dress code for Sikh soldiers. Col HP Singh (Retd)

Dr Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon, former professor of History, Panjab University, Chandigarh, viewed that the safety aspect of the Sikh soldiers should be kept in mind, yet if there was any infringement of the Sikh tenets, he urged the Akal Takht and the SGPC to discuss it with defence experts.

“In the modern era warfare, there is lethal weaponry. We cannot risk the lives of Sikh soldiers. The ballistic helmets will prevent the penetration of bullets, besides protecting the soldiers from adverse weather conditions at their operational zones. I believe that these helmets will not be a hindrance to turban or kes (hair). Still, the Akal Takht and the SGPC could discuss it with the former Sikh defence personnel,” he said.

Col HP Singh (retd), who served the Army between 1977-2000, said helmets would be meant compulsory only for those, who would be deputed in the operational zone where it was required for safety.

“It is true that a turban cannot offer that much protection what a bullet proof helmet could. I believe that it will not be a part of the dress code for all Sikh soldiers,” he said.

Gurpreet Singh, Director of the United Sikhs (India), said the government would have to roll back its decision.

“How could the government make a unilateral decision without taking into loop the people for whom it was intended for? It happened just as the government did in case of the farm laws. Under the democratic set up, there should have been a consensus,” he said.

Canadian body supports helmet

The World Sikh Organisation, Canada, which mandates to promote and protect the interests of the Sikhs, has supported a Sikh woman in Canada, who devised a specially designed safety helmet for her three kids who ride bikes. What makes the helmet design unique is that it has a domed portion on top to accommodate a child’s hair