India’s Sports Minister asks IOC to intervene in ‘patka’ row


New Delhi (IANS): Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal Wednesday has asked the the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to take up the issue of Indian basketball players being barred from ‘patkas’, a head covering in place of a turban, at the 5th FIBA Asia Cup held in China.

Two Sikh players, Amritpal Singh and Amjyot Singh, were asked to remove their patkas before the start of India’s match opening match against Japan July 12.

The match officials cited Article 4.4.2 of FIBA’s rules that states: “Players shall not wear equipment (objects) that may cause injury to other players. Headgear, hair accessories and jewellery are not permitted.”

“We are aware that some players of the Indian Basketball team were not allowed to play with turbans (patkas) in the Asia Cup held in China recently. We are shocked and outraged. We have spoken to Basketball Federation of India and sought a detailed report from them,” said Sonowal.

“We have also asked International Olympic Committee (IOC) to issue necessary guidelines/instructions to international sports federations so that such incidents do not take place again.

“Our government respects all religions and will do everything to ensure that their sentiments do not get hurt. Wearing a turban does not affect fair play and has not been objected to in international sports championships. Therefore, the latest incident has surprised and shocked us,” the sports minister added.

India, who finished seventh, qualified for this year’s tournament after winning the South Asian Basketball Association Championship in May 2014.

India is ranked 61st in the FIBA World Rankings for men and 11th in Asia.