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Sikh in Karnataka harassed for not wearing helmet
Posted by: Mehtab Singh (IP Logged)
Date: February 03, 2008 11:47AM

[www.mid-day.com]

Traffic police fine 19-yr-old Sikh for not wearing helmet even though Motor Vehicles Act exempts Sikhs from the rule. ACP says he will check Karnataka rulebook

The traffic police have sent Harneet Singh Sabharwal a letter asking him to pay a fine of Rs 100 for not wearing a helmet while riding a two-wheeler.

What they have forgotten is that the Motor Vehicles Act exempts Sikhs from wearing any protective headgear because of their turbans. Additional commissioner of police (traffic and security) K C Ramamurthy said he needed to check the rulebook to see if Sikhs in Karnataka — where the helmet rule is compulsory — are exempt.

Rules are rules

“It is not compulsory to wear a helmet in all states. I will check the Karnataka rulebook to see what it says,” Ramamurthy said.

He also said he would send a circular to the department if an exemption existed. “Even if it does not, I will write to the state government asking for the exemption. We do not want to hurt anyone’s religious sentiments,” he said.

He promised to look in the matter if Harneet got in touch with him.

They are exempt

According to traffic expert

M N Srihari, Sikhs everywhere are exempt from the helmet rule. “It comes under the Indian Motor Vehicles Act, so it is applicable to every state in India,” he said.

Syed Shafi Ahmed, secretary, Regional Transport Authority, too said the rule did not apply to Sikhs. “Since they wear turbans, it is obviously impossible for them to wear a helmet on top of that,” he explained.

Still stopped

Harneet said this was not the first time he was charged for not wearing a helmet.

Other Sikhs have also faced this problem, especially around malls such as The Forum and Bangalore Central.

“I have been riding my bike for a year, but the constables just refuse to understand that I cannot wear a helmet. It’s annoying to explain the same thing every time. I get late very often too. When I am in a hurry to get to college or the Gurudwara the cops catch hold of me and expect me to pay a fine for something that is not actually an offence in my case,” said the 19-year-old.

 





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