Many foreign-bound Sikhs remove turbans, clip hair to escape post 9/11 racial profiling

first_imgSagar Annie Singh, Student in Romania: Removed his turban and tied his hair in a ponytail after he was called ‘Bin Laden’When Harmanjit Singh Sandhu, 24, got admission to an MBA programme in a California university, it was a dream come true. But, 48 hours before he left for the,Sagar Annie Singh, Student in Romania: Removed his turban and tied his hair in a ponytail after he was called ‘Bin Laden’When Harmanjit Singh Sandhu, 24, got admission to an MBA programme in a California university, it was a dream come true. But, 48 hours before he left for the US in August 2002, panic gripped the computer engineer. He feared his turbaned appearance would invite trouble in the post-9/11 US. So he cut his hair short, removed the turban, went for a clean-shaven look and applied for a fresh passport. His old passport was valid till 2010 but he wanted one with his new photo. “Cutting his hair was a painful decision but we wanted to avoid any humiliation abroad,” says his father Gurmail Singh. Sandhu’s case is not an exception but a trend as the queue of shaven Sikhs lengthens at passport offices in Punjab. The most visible section of the Indian diaspora, the Sikhs are dashing for a passport carrying their new photo. The Chandigarh passport office received 600 such applications last year. “This disconcerting trend has been more pronounced since the September 11 attack,” says Arvind Kumar, regional passport officer, Chandigarh. The two highly publicised hate attacks on Sikhs in the US linger in the memory of many foreign-bound Sikhs. That the security personnel in foreign airports are particular in frisking travellers with turbans and beards have not helped. “They suspect anyone with a beard and headgear as an Islamist fanatic,” says Jasvinder Singh Osan, a globe-trotting electronic engineer who heads a software company in Chandigarh. Haramrit Pal Singh Kehal, Business executive: Had a hasslefree Hong Kong trip as he had shaved his beard and cut his hairHe had cut his hair two years ago for “comfort” but retained the old passport. However, when he went to the US recently, he got his photograph changed. “I had a lurking fear that my old photo with Sikh looks could arouse suspicion,” says Osan. It seems the fears of the 1984 Sikh riots, when many had cut their hair to escape communal fury, have come to revisit. The youngsters are troubled by stories of racial profiling at the airports. The apprehensions are not entirely unfounded. Sagar Annie Singh, a medical student in Romania, took off the turban and wore his hair in a ponytail. His turbaned appearance never caused any trouble in the first four years of his stay abroad. But since September 11, the world changed for Sagar too. “Anyone sporting a turban and beard is seen as a fanatic or Taliban,” he says. On the streets people taunted him, calling him “Bin Laden”. “They mistake me for an Iranian or an Afghani,” he says. When he came to India and applied for a new passport, however, the authorities refused to give it at a short notice. The turban trouble is more serious in East European countries which have a relatively less Sikh population than Britain or the US. Jasvinder Singh Osan, Engineer : Feared his Sikh looks could arouse suspicion in USSome, like Haramrit Pal Singh Kehal, a business executive in Ludhiana, say the new looks work wonders. Kehal, who went for the razor, says he “didn’t face any problem on my recent Hong Kong trip”. Not many globe-trotting Sikhs, however, buy the argument that a new appearance raises the comfort level. “Security checks at the airports are stricter but it is wrong to say that Sikhs are more vulnerable because of their appearance,” says Jagjot Singh, a frequent-flier based in New Delhi. Passport authorities are cautious in issuing new passports – there will be a fresh police verification if there is a considerable difference in appearance – since changing the looks is an old trick to get a new passport in place of the one bearing visa rejection stamps. In a state where the lust for foreign lands has fuelled a Rs 500-crore immigration racket, people are taken in by claims of travel agents that a shaven face will help a Sikh escape detection by foreign security agencies that crack down on illegal immigration. After Italy allowed the stay of illegal immigrants, passport authorities got a plethora of requests for fresh passports from them. “Most verification documents carry their clean shaven photos,” says Kumar. Along with the changing face of Punjabi youth, there is a rising concern over apostasy. But dollar dreams seem to have got the better of religious symbols.advertisementlast_img read more

Samsung Galaxy Alpha to receive Android 5.0 Lollipop update

first_imgAlthough a bit late, Samsung has finally decided to roll outAndroid 5.0 Lollipop updates for various high-end Galaxy-series handsets.Samsung’s support page has tipped the Android 5.0.1 Lollipop update for moredevices including Galaxy Alpha.Galaxy Alpha is the Samsung’s first metal-clad smartphone.Furthermore, the mid-range Galaxy S5 mini alongside theGalaxy Note II has also been listed for the Android 5.0 Lollipop update.According to GSMArena, Samsung’s Finland and Denmark supportpages list upcoming Android software updates for several Galaxy rangesmartphones. Samsung has not given anyscheduled time when the Lollipop update will be rolled out.It’s worth noting that Android 5.0 Lollipop update for theGalaxy S5 mini was earlier tipped by Samsung France. The company had suggestedthat the Android update will start rolling out in the second quarter of 2015.To recall, Samsung Galaxy Alpha was launched last year inAugust and ran Android 4.4.4 KitKat out-of-the-box. It was launched in India atRs. 39,990 in September.Samsung Alpha sports a 4.7-inch HD (720×1280 pixels) superamoled display with dimensions 132.4×65.5×6.7mm and weighs 115 grams.The Galaxy Alpha is powered by an octa-core chipset withquad-core 1.8GHz and quad-core 1.3GHz. The smartphone also comes in a quad-corevariant with a clock speed of 2.5GHz. It features 2GB of RAM and 32GB inbuiltstorage that is non-expandable. It sports a 12-megapixel rear camera and alsoincludes 2.1-megapixel front-facing camera. It packs an 1860mAh battery.last_img read more

Bahri Expands Fleet with Another VLCC

first_imgzoom National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia (Bahri) has taken delivery of the very large crude carrier (VLCC) Rimthan, built by Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries (HSHI) in South Korea.The 300,000 dwt carrier joins the company’s 40-strong VLCC fleet. Built to the latest environmental and fuel-efficient technical specifications, the ship was handed over to Bahri during a delivery ceremony held at HSHI’s Mokpo shipyard in South Jeolla Province, South Korea.Rimthan is the fourth VLCC to join the Bahri fleet this year, following the delivery of Amjad, Maharah, and Aslaf.“Rimthan is the fourth VLCC that Bahri has received from HHI Group this year with another six vessels on order and to be delivered over the next year and a half,” Saleh Al-Debasi, Board Member, Bahri, said.“The addition of Rimthan is yet another step toward strengthening our leadership in the global oil transportation industry,” Ali Al-Harbi, Acting CEO, Bahri, said.Bahri Oil will be responsible for the commercial operation of Rimthan. Bahri is set to further expand its oil tanker fleet with the addition of Shaden, its 41st VLCC, towards the end of October 2017.last_img read more