Earlier this week, the volunteer arm of Ireland’s national police force, the Garda Síochána Reserve, inducted the first Sikh member to practice. The Irish Times reported that Ravinder Singh Oberoi, who moved to Dublin in 1997 and has worked in IT since, said wearing the Garda Reserves uniform with a turban was a “proud moment” for him. In 2007, after being told that he would not be able to wear his turban with his uniform, Oberoi had to discontinue preparation for the Garda.
Oberoi was sworn in as a reserve member on Tuesday, 14 years after he first began training to join the police force as a volunteer, along with 71 others at Templemore Garda College in Tipperary.
Oberoi had challenged the force’s uniform rules before the Equality Tribunal and the High Court after discontinuing his training in 2007, but lost the case. As its members were technically volunteers and not workers, the High Court ruled that the Garda was not guilty of employee discrimination.
Badge of distinction: Meet the first Sikh in the Garda Reserves, the national police force of Ireland 🇮🇪
— Harjinder Singh Kukreja (@SinghLions) January 23, 2021
But Garda Commissioner Drew Harris introduced a new set of rules in 2019, allowing individuals belonging to religious minorities to add such things to their uniform, such as a turban or headscarf. To allow ethnic minorities to join the military, the change was planned.
Soon after this, between October and November, a jubilant Oberai underwent a refresher training course in Dublin. “It was a proud moment after 14 years as a Sikh man to be able to wear a turban as part of his uniform,” he told the Irish Times, adding that Tuesday’s event was “quite emotional.”
“My faith is quite important, especially during these Covid times, it’s what keeps you going. It’s a great honour to be able to call this country my home and now to be accepted in the attire I wear,” he told the Irish paper. Oberoi hopes that more Sikh men and women will follow his lead and join the force.