All women riding pillion on motorbikes in the Indian capital have to wear helmets, but an exception has been made for Sikh women on religious grounds, a Transport department official said yesterday.
An earlier version of the rules specified that Sikh men wearing turbans and women riding pillion did not have to use helmets, Delhi Transport department official Yogesh Pratap said.
The Delhi government had in 1998 made wearing helmets a must for all pillion riders but after objections from the Sikh community amended the rule making it optional for all women.
It has now revised the rule excluding only Sikh women from wearing the helmet.
Sikh women are not allowed to wear anything on their head apart from a turban, scarf or under-turban, according to the Sikh community website sikhnet.com.
“We wanted there to be no exemptions for wearing helmets,” joint commissioner of police Anil Shukla said.
“Road accidents do not discriminate between men or women or on the basis of their religion,” Shukla added.
Shukla said the police accepted the limits to the regulation as they were concerned that the safety of a larger number of women should not be put on hold by the protests of a community.
“We are not really for strong prosecution right now, we are going to first focus on a campaign to ensure women wear these helmets,” Shukla said.
All women pillion riders not wearing helmets would be stopped. “It’s up to them to prove whether they are Sikh or not,” Shukla said.
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