Indian action call as Sikh pilot asked to remove turban by security at Madrid airport in Spain

Air India Sikh pilot was asked to remove turban at Madrid airport. Credit: Arpingstone [Public domain]

THE Indian government has been urged to take up the case of a Sikh airline pilot who was asked by security staff at Madrid’s Barajas airport in Spain to take off his turban for a manual search. 

The pilot had already passed through a metal detector scan when he was approached in what has been called a case of “bias and racism towards Sikhs.” 

Now leader of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) political party Manjinder Singh Sirsa has written to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar asking him to discuss the case with Spain’s government. 


In the letter he said: “I wish to share with you the harassment faced by an Air India official, Captain Simranjeet Singh Gujral, at Madrid airport. He was subjected to racial discrimination because of his turban. The Madrid airport officials demanded him to remove his turban and asked for a manual check-up of his turban which is an offence in the eyes of a Sikh.” 

He added: “All this happened despite Captain Gujral clearing the metal detectors. Truly, this is a case of bias and racial attitude towards Sikhs at the Madrid airport.” 

Mr Sirsa said that this is not the first such incident at Madrid airport, with several instances in the recent past. 

“As you are well aware, the turban is the essence of a Sikh’s identity and it is important to create awareness at the global level about how sensitive Sikhs are about their turban. I request your good self to raise this issue at the global level and especially with Spain government at Madrid airport who continue to hurt our sentiments and play the ‘ignorance’ card to their advantage,” Sirsa said. 

In a tweet Mr Gujral said that the pilot had phoned him to tell him about the incident. 

“I got a call from Captain Simran Gujral from the AIR INDIA flying AI 136 who was harassed at Madrid Airport where the airport officials mistreated him just because he was wearing turban. This is a racial behaviour and a disrespect towards Sikh turban,” he said. 

“I request @DrSJaishankar Ji to address the issue at the global level and ensure that Sikhs don’t get mistreated globally because of their turban,” Sirsa said in a second tweet.  


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