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Gyani Jarnail Singh

Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
Jul 4, 2004
Palanivel wants NS apology over haircut prank

BATU CAVES, Jan 20 — MIC president Datuk G. Palanivel has called on National Service officials to apologise to the Sikh community for allowing a Sikh trainee’s hair to be cut under their watch.

He said it was a serious matter as the alleged cutting 18-year-old Basant Singh’s hair by trainees at Seri Impian Training Camp at Sungai Bakap, Penang had “affected his spirituality”.

“There should be an apology to the Sikh community on the part of the National Service officials,” Palanivel said here today.

Although he dismissed the idea that the incident would cause social tension, the former Hulu Selangor MP stressed that an apology was needed to keep the situation from deteriorating.

“These are the little things that they must solve immediately. One apology will solve the thing,” he said.

He urged that “serious action” be taken to find the culprits as unshorn hair was a “very sacred symbol” for Sikhs, adding that the Sikh community was likely very unhappy about the incident.

Basant said on Tuesday that his one metre-long hair, which has not been cut since birth, had been snipped by about 60cm while he and 10 other trainees were asleep at the camp dormitory.

His father, Surinderpal Singh, a priest attached to the Gurdwara Sahib in front of the Sungai Pari flats in Ipoh, told The Malaysian Insider that the incident was serious as it showed a lack of understanding among youths as to the significance of unshorn hair in Sikhism.

In Sikhism, men keep their hair uncut and do not shave their facial hair in a practice is known as “kesh”.

Surinderpal said the incident also reflected the lax security at National Service camps, pointing out that the trainees should not be allowed to carry sharp objects with them.

He added that his son had been “traumatised” by the incident and was refusing to return to training, which began on January 4 and ends on March 13.

The National Service training programme department, however, said yesterday it was satisfied that there had been “no malice” involved in the cutting of Basant’s hair.

Its director-general, Datuk Abdul Hadi Awang Kechil, said the investigating formed to look into Basant’s complaint reached the conclusion after calling 16 witnesses.

The witnesses included trainees, trainers, staff and the commandant of Seri Impian Training Camp, where the incident took place.

The panel comprised the department’s director of operations Colonel Sanusi Hashim and Commander Wan Zarihan Wan Ismail and Lieutenant Thomas Anak Aungoom of the Royal Malaysian Navy.

Abdul Hadi added that the panel’s report had been presented at the post-Cabinet meeting of the Defence Ministry. - Malaysian Insider