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Wednesday January 19, 2011

Minister orders probe into ‘cutting’ of Sikh boy’s hair

PUTRAJAYA: Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has ordered an in-depth probe into a claim by a Sikh national service trainee that his hair was cut while he slept at the Sungai Bakap camp in Penang.

National Service Training Department director-general Datuk Abdul Hadi Awang Kechil said a team from the department would be sent to conduct an investigation which would take about two weeks.

Hairy issue: Basant showing his hair which was originally below his navel. With him is his mother Swaran Kaur (left), 46 and his father Surinderpal.

“The ministry and the department view any problem involving the faith of trainees seriously and we make sure all our trainers and staff are aware of their religious and cultural needs,” he said.

Abdul Hadi said trainee Basant Singh, 17, accompanied by his father Surinderpal Singh, lodged a report over the alleged incident with the camp commandant Mej Shamsudin Abdul Aziz at 3pm last Sunday.

They also lodged a police report.

“But the trainee Basant could not produce any evidence to show that his hair had been cut.

“Checks at his sleeping place as well as the belongings of other trainees in his dormitory were futile as no hair or sharp objects were found,” he told a press conference here yesterday.

Basant said he had been traumatised by the incident which violated his religious practice – of which does not condone the cutting of one’s hair.

“I was fast asleep on Sunday night. When I woke up the next day, I realised that my hair had been cut off as I was about to tie it,” he said.

Basant’s hair, which originally reached below his navel, was estimated to have been cut by 50cm.

Basant said the camp commandant had given him leave until Jan 23 but he did not want to go back.

His father Surinderpal Singh, 46, who is a priest, said the incident was a transgression of his rights as a Sikh.

“I have taught him from young to keep his hair,” said Surinderpal.

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