In 2016, a young man from Kaithal in Haryana joined the Indian Army's Sikh regiment. Soon however, the army instructors at the training centre found something amiss. The young recruit couldn't even speak a word of Punjabi. Investigations revealed that he had forged documents to show that he was a Sikh. Another 'Sikh' candidate could not even tell the basic tenets of Sikhism.
According to a Times of India report, these are only two of 51 such cases that have come to light in the last two years. Young Haryanvi men are pretending to be Sikh so that they can join the Indian Army's Sikh regiment. FIRs have been lodged in all cases and both the men are now facing criminal charges.
According to the TOI report, such is the desperation among Haryanvi men to earn a decent living that many are forging documents and converting to Sikhism to join the army. However, most of these pretenders are caught during the initial training period.
The report mentions that of the 51 men caught so far, many tried to pass themselves off as Jatt Sikhs. Some of them simply added 'Sikh' to their caste certificate, while others converted to Sikhism by undergoing the baptism ritual at a gurudwara. The neo-converts had undergone the ritual only after they had successfully registered for the selection process.
The report quotes Colonel Vikram Singh Sankhla, director of the recruiting office at Ambala Cantonment, as saying that this was a dangerous trend and underscoring the difficulty in identifying such candidates during the recruitment process. He added that they had only recently sacked and filed cases against four individuals from Kaithal.
Balwant Rai, ASI and the investigating officer in the case, said that an easy way of sifting the fake candidates from the real followers of Sikhism was a quick conversation about the religion. He also clarified that the cases had been registered only because the recruits had undertaken the baptism after they had registered for the selection process. Had they converted earlier, no action would have been taken against them.
Cases against 47 individuals from Hissar, Jind, Fatehabad and Sirsa were also registered in December 2015.