The India Post, Chandigarh, July 15 :The Shiromani Akali Dal President and Member of Parliament Mr.Sukhbir Singh Badal today asked the Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh to intervene with the International Olympic Association and the International Boxing Association (AIBA) against rules that prohibit a prectising Sikh from taking part in boxing competitions.
Mr.Badal has also sent a copies of this letter to the Indian Olympic Association and the India Ameteur Boxing Federation.Mr.Badal’s letter follows the denial of right to compete twice to the India Junior National Gold Medallists (Super Heavy Weight) Pushpinder Singh in International meets. He had been refused selection as he did not qualify to take part in the trials because of the IABA regulations.
It may be mentioned here that the competition Rule IV, Dress-B states that, "A boxer shall be clean shaven at the medical examination before the weigh-in. Beards are not allowed a thin moustache is allowed not to exceed the length of the upper lip."
Mr. Badal has pointed out that this rule violates the Article ‘A’ of the AIBA which states," to ensure that no discrimination is allowed against any country or person on grounds of race, religion or political affiliation."
Mr. Badal said that the rule prohibiting practicing Sikhs from participation goes against the basic tenet freedom of conscience and religious equality. He said that the rule is clear case of discrimination on religious grounds. It violates the basic tenet of Sikh Religion whose followers number more than 20 million and they reside as lawful citizens in almost all countries like India, UK, USA, Canada, Australia and all over Europe. Sikhs who follow Sikh Religion have to keep five Ks which include " keshas" or hair. Sikhs never shave the hair. Uncut hair, right from birth till death, are part and parcel of their physical being. They are not just symbols which may or may not be worn.
Mr. Badal has also referred to Article 3 of the objectives of the AIBA which states," discrimination on any ground such as gender, race, color, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion.
In the light of the above, said Mr.Badal, the Govt.of India and the IOA must immediately move the world body to get the offending clause deleted from its rules. He said that, Pushpinder, who is one of the most promising boxers from the country, must be allowed to pursue his sport without any discrimination on the basis of the symbols of his religion, he said.