New Delhi: A little over a month after two Sikh members of Indian national team were asked to remove their turbans at the fifth FIBA Asia Cup in China, more humiliation lay in store for the nation as Anmol Singh, an India U-18 basketball player, was told to remove his patka twice during the ongoing 23rd edition of FIBA Asia U-18 meet in Doha, Qatar.
The first of the twin incidents took place late on Tuesday night when Anmol, the lone Sikh player representing India in the event, was asked to remove his patka while the team was warming up for their opening clash against hosts Qatar on Day 1 of the competition.
A day later, against Malaysia, Anmol was allowed to play with his patka, but after 10 minutes, was told to remove it.
Speaking to Dailybhaskar.com, Basketball Federation of India’s (BFI) CEO Roopam Harish Sharma said the Indian body will raise the issue in the upcoming FIBA Congress in Spain and ensure the matter meets its “logical end.”
“When this happened in Asia Cup last month, we had taken up the matter with FIBA Asia, but they have no authority over such decisions (regarding rules). Such decisions are taken by the Technical Committee of FIBA World, which will be meeting on August 28 and 29,” she said.
Asked about India’s strategy for the meet, Roopam, who will be representing India in the two-day affair, said, “We will make them understand that it (turban) is a part of Sikh culture and tradition. It is not an accessory, and it is in no way injurious to players. It is just a 5” X 5” piece of cloth that Sikhs wear on their heads. We hope we would be able to resolve the issue and bring it to its logical conclusion.”
Interestingly, BFI had reportedly raised the issue in FIBA Asia meet last month after cagers Amritpal Singh and Amjyot Singh were asked to remove their turbans ahead of their Asia Cup game against Japan in Wuhan, China.
K Govindraj, BFI’s senior Vice- President, represented India in the July 24 meet of FIBA Asia- held, ironically, in Doha. Then, speaking to this correspondent, BFI’s General Secretary Ajay Sud had said, “We will raise the issue there, and will lodge a formal protest against FIBA.” Asked about the developments of that meeting, Roopam repeated, “Such decisions are not taken by FIBA Asia. We need to raise the issue in a suitable forum, which is the FIBA World Congress.”
When asked for his comments on the recent incident, Sud said, “We have raised the issue with FIBA, and a letter has been sent to FIBA World. We have a FIBA World meeting in Spain next week, and we’ll raise the issue there.”
With religious sentiments attached to the incident, cries of racism are usually not be far behind. However, Roopam clarified the BFI did not view such incidents as racial slurs.
“I would not address it as a racial issue. I am sure once we explain the religious sentiments attached with it, the Technical Committee will approve of turbans. It’s not an issue in Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, it’s not an issue in hockey or other sports, and I don’t think FIBA will have an issue with it either,” she said.
BFI Associate Secretary Ashok Rangeen, however, had reportedly claimed that the Doha fracas happened despite FIBA Asia being intimated about the issue in advance.
“We have (sic) communicated to Fiba Asia that the headgear rules were not properly interpreted in China and hence they should allow Anmol to play at least with a small patka,” Rangeen told the Times of India.
Speaking to Dailybhaskar.com, Rangeen said, “FIBA Asia does not have an authority to change the rules. We had raised the issue with them in July 24 meeting as well, but the decision will be taken by FIBA World which is meeting next week. Currently, the size of patka and turban violates FIBA’s rule that allows players to wear a headband of maximum 5cm width. We will explain the religious sentiments attached with it in FIBA World Congress, and tell them that it (tubans and patkas) is made of non-abrasive material that is not injurious to anyone. We have already written to IOA, IOC, Government of India, FIBA Asia and FIBA World.”