It’s curtains for the colonial-era blue-and-red fringed Punjab police turban. Punjab Police Thursday issued directions to exempt police officials from wearing jhaalar wali pag (turban with strings) in their working uniform while discharging official duties.
The order is silent on what it is to be replaced with, though earlier, a proposal was mooted for a plain khaki turban.
The Indian Express in its December 19 edition had first reported that the age-old issue had been taken up yet again. DGP Suresh Arora had asked Human Resource Development Additional Director General of Police M K Tiwari to explore the possibility of phasing out the turban with a cosmetic red fringe on one side
The issue had come up earlier in the year too, when the Amritsar-based historian Surinder Kocchhar lamented to Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal that even after 67 years of independence, police constables and head constables in the state had to go through an “ordeal to wear the sign of British government slavery”.
The provisioning wing of the Punjab Police, referring to Kochchar’s letter to the deputy CM, had at that time, however, said there was no need to change the turban.
Kocchhar on Friday welcomed the move and said cops would be able to work more efficiently now.
“Now onwards, the Punjab policemen will wear it only on occasions like Independence Day and the Republic Day and other ceremonial occasions,” said Additional Director General of Police (Welfare) B K Uppal.
Punjab Bureau of Investigation chief and ADGP Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota said the blue-and-red turban with the fringe was a big hindrance in duty during terrorism era in Punjab as well.
“The cops who used to go in open gypsy vehicles had to take extra care of it in blowing wind. The fringe used to get in the way coming into the line of vision, especially when they were taking aim with a gun,” Sahota said.
Rajdeep Singh Gill, who retired as Director General-cum-Director Principal, Maharaja Ranjit Singh Punjab Police Academy (PPA), Phillaur, on the other hand, is among those in favour of retaining the jhaalar wali pag.
He had pointed out that the turban gave Punjab police a distinct identity. He was not available for comment on Friday.