An RTO officer in Mangaluru is in the dock for demanding that a Sikh man remove his turban and wear a helmet in order to take a driving test. On December 19, Karmender Singh Rathore was scheduled to appear for a driving test at Vamanjoor test yard in Mangaluru, when the vehicle inspector Nagaraja Bhat allegedly asked Karmender to remove his turban.
"I told the official that Central Motor Vehicle Act has laid down provisions that Sikhs are exempted from wearing a helmet, however the official did not budge and demanded that I relieve my turban before taking the test," Karmender said in a statement.
Further, Karmender alleged in his complaint that Nagraj humiliated him in public by making baseless accusations that he was seeking preferential treatment in Karnataka.
The Sikh man also alleged that the RTO officer insulted him in Kannada, assuming that Karmender couldn’t understand the language.
"Thale iddare helmet haakbeku (If you have a head, you must wear a helmet),” the RTO officer reportedly said.
Karmender Singh is born and raised in Mangaluru and is quite familiar with Tulu and Kannada. "He could understand every word that the inspector uttered. Though humiliated, Karmender kept his calm, as no other individual came to his rescue," Balvinder Singh Virdi from the Guru Singh Sabha Society said.
Sikh leaders met Deputy Commissioner Sasikanth Senthil on Thursday and said that the inspector has not only flouted rules but also hurt their religious sentiments and demanded that firm action be taken against him. The Deputy Commissioner forwarded the complaint to the RTO.
This reporter contacted to Deputy Commissioner for Transport and Senior RTO in-charge, GS Hegde, who confirmed that he had received the plaint. "Yes, we will seek the RTO officer’s explanation on Monday. Also, I will be looking into the presence of Nagraj on the test yard at Vamanjoor, as I am certain that he was not deputed there," Hegde said.
The senior RTO official re-confirmed the fact that the MVA has indeed made exemption to the Sikh community members from wearing helmet and he will doubly ensuring that none in his department will disrespecting religious sentiments of any community member.
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