Sikhs leaving Italian airports will no longer be asked to take off their turbans or taken for checking in toilets if they protest, according to sources close to Minister for External Affairs S. M. Krishna who held bilateral talks on the issue with his Italian counterpart Franco Frattini in Rome on Friday.
The Italian Interior Ministry's announcement came in the form of a decree at the end of Foreign Minister-level talks at which India held firmly to its demand for ending the practice of asking Sikhs to remove their turbans during security check at Italian airports.
Italy also accepted the demand that the turban worn by Sikhs should be accepted as a symbol of religion instead of an accessory as is the case in some other cultures. This means that Sikhs in Italy would not be asked to take off their turbans while getting photographed for ID cards.
Early on in the talks between the two Foreign Ministers, Italy had assured India that it would try to have a procedure under which turbans need not be removed. Till such time a system was evolved, security checks would be done in a private room and not in open areas or in toilets.
However, Mr. Krishna was firm on exempting Sikhs from removing their turbans and felt Italy must respect Indian cultural and religious beliefs. This issue was especially sensitive for India as it related to minority communities, he said during the talks with Mr. Frattini.
The sources said resolution of the issue was the “main part of agenda” as security check of all Sikhs wearing turbans had become a key grievance for the community living in Italy. India had earlier lodged a complaint on the issue.
Meanwhile, the Municipality of Rome has agreed to install a statue of Rabindranath Tagore at a prime location in the historical city.
Mr. Krishna is in Rome to attend the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy.