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The daughter of a Sikh police officer in New South Wales (NSW) alleged that her father was afflicted with PTSD and serious depression as a result of alleged bullying and harassment at work. 

What really happened 

The 38-year-old Jasbir Singh who immigrated to Australia from India in 2005, joined the NSW Police in 2009. After beginning his initial assignment in Sydney, Mr Singh was later relocated to a rural area in New South Wales, where he had been employed since 2013.

Mr Singh was given permission to request an exemption for wearing an untrimmed beard to work in 2016 when he was "baptised" as a Sikh. The local Sikh temple wrote in support that there have been no occupational health and safety difficulties with Sikhs with long beards in other Police departments in other states of Australia, nor in any other industries.

According to Mr Singh's daughter Ebony, during this period, his colleagues frequently referred to him as a "rat," "hippy," "brown sugar," "terrorist," and "Muhammed" due to his appearance and cultural heritage. She said, “We are Australians. Sikhs believe in honest living, meditation and sharing our honest earnings with others. We believe in equality, justice and protection for all. Sikhs don’t cut their hair and beard.”

Family initiates online petitions - NSW Police policy change

Ebony Singh states that her father was not well enough to discuss this issue and was seeking therapy. She had also established a petition online to address the purported cause. The petition to reform NSW Police's policy to be more inclusive of diverse Australians has received over 2,700 signatures as of this writing as of 30 November 2020. 

Miss Singh said she was devastated that her dad had to endure such circumstances and that she planned to send this petition to the Premier and the Police Minister of NSW.

She recalled her father telling her that his coworkers made fun of his accent, called him "towel head," and referred to terrorists as their brothers.

The Family appealed to Premier Gladys Berejiklian to intercede

Miss Singh also made a heartfelt plea to  Gladys Berejiklian, premier of NSW, to conduct a high-level independent inquiry. She implored the Premier to step in and intervene in the case for the sake of justice, her family, and all Sikhs who have proudly served this country.

She said, “We need more accountability in the system. We miss going out and enjoying holidays with our dad. We want our dad to get better and be like he was before.”

Sikhs have faced racism and discrimination for years, often experiencing derogatory slurs and harmful actions based on their appearance and religious beliefs. This discrimination stems from a lack of understanding and education about the Sikh faith and culture. The most visible aspect of Sikh identity is their unshorn hair and turbans, which has led to misconceptions and stereotypes about their appearance and beliefs.

Sikhs have faced numerous challenges due to this discrimination, including hate crimes, employment discrimination, and difficulty accessing public services. However, despite these challenges, the Sikh community has continued to persevere and advocate for their rights and equal treatment.

 

*Based on an article by Preetinder Grewal, published in SBS on 30th November 2020

 

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