Kuala Lumpur, Jan 19 (Agencies): Taking the matter seriously, Malaysian Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi ordered a probe into a claim of a Sikh trainee of the National Service that his hair was cut while he slept during a camp.

National Service Training Department director-general Abdul Hadi Awang Kechil said a team from the department would be sent to conduct an investigation.

"The ministry and the department view any problem involving the faith of trainees seriously and we make sure all our trainers and staff are aware of their religious and cultural needs," he was quoted as saying by The Star.

The newspaper carried a photograph of the youth, Basant Singh, showing his hair which was originally below his navel, along with his mother Swaran Kaur and father Surinderpal Singh.

Abdul Hadi said trainee Basant Singh, 17, accompanied by his father, lodged a report over the alleged incident with the camp commandant Maj. Shamsudin Abdul Aziz on last Sunday.

They also lodged a police report. But the trainee Basant could not produce any evidence to show that his hair had been cut.

"Checks at his sleeping place as well as the belongings of other trainees in his dormitory were futile as no hair or sharp objects were found," said Abdul Hadi.

Multi-racial Malaysia is home to 2.1 ethnic Indians, including an estimated 100,000 Sikhs.

Basant Singh said he had been traumatised by the incident. His hair, which originally reached below his navel, was estimated to have been cut by 50cm, the official said.

His father Surinderpal Singh, 46, who is a priest, said, "I have taught him from young to keep his hair."