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This Press Release may be read online at: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-07-07-2008-00.htm

Press Release: 7th Jul 2008, Monday         23rd Harh (Samvat 540 Nanakshahi )

Prosecutor Drops Charges Against Sikh Arrested for Wearing a kirpan

"UNITED SIKHS calls on the State to grant Sikhs a statutory right to wear a kirpan to end harassment faced by Sikhs," - Jaspreet Singh, Staff Attorney

Stamford, CT, USA: The prosecution dropped charges against 47 year old truck driver, Sachdev Singh, for wearing a kirpan (a blade that is carried by Sikhs as an article of faith), after meeting him with UNITED SIKHS attorney, Jaspreet Singh, at the State of Connecticut Superior Court earlier today.

Jaspreet Singh said, "UNITED SIKHS had telephoned and written to State Attorney David Cohen explaining the significance of the kirpan as an article of faith and detailing prior precedent in various courts that recognized a Sikh's right to carry the kirpan. The letter also said that Sachdev Singh should not be prosecuted because the blade he was carrying could not cause injury because its edge was dull."

Commenting on this morning's meeting at the Connecticut Court, he added, "After examining and testing the kirpan in question, the prosecutor, Steve Weiss, found that the edge of the kirpan's blade to be dull and decided that the charges should be dropped."

"Whilst we are grateful to the prosecutor for allowing good sense to prevail, UNITED SIKHS calls on the State to grant Sikhs a statutory right to wear a kirpan, to end harassment faced by Sikhs," said Jaspreet Singh.

Since September 11, 2001, UNITED SIKHS has assisted Sikhs in several cases in the USA where they were criminally charged for carrying the kirpan. Every case has led to a voluntary dismissal of the charges by a prosecutor or in three instances, dismissal by a court. Furthermore, many courthouses, such as the Queens Criminal Court in NY, have a policy to allow Sikhs to check-in their kirpan at security.

On a previous decision to voluntarily drop criminal charges for carrying a kirpan, Gerald Coyne, Deputy Attorney General for the State of Rhode Island said, "We are hopeful that the law enforcement agencies will recognize the inherent religious nature of the kirpan and also recognize that those who carry the kirpan only as a symbol of faith should not be subjected to prosecution." To read what other Courts have said when dismissing charges for carrying a kirpan, click here.

UNITED SIKHS has written to the Connecticut State Judicial Marshal's Office to ensure that incidents like this one do not occur again, and to formulate a training policy for marshals regarding the articles of faith and proper treatment of a Sikh and his or her articles of faith.

"I am thankful that UNITED SIKHS helped me with every step of my case, and I greatly value the work UNITED SIKHS is doing to protect the rights of Sikhs to wear the kirpan and other kakaars [articles of faith]," stated Sachdev Singh.

"I am thankful that UNITED SIKHS helped me with every step of my case, and I greatly value the work UNITED SIKHS is doing to protect the rights of Sikhs to wear the kirpan and other kakaars [articles of faith]." - Sachdev Singh

On June 18, 2008, Sachdev Singh was arrested and his kirpan and dastaar (Sikh turban) were forcibly removed when he attempted to enter the State of Connecticut Superior Court in Stamford to contest a traffic violation. The arrest occurred soon after Sachdev Singh entered the courthouse as he was passing through security that is handled by the Connecticut Judicial State Marshals. Sachdev Singh wore his kirpan under his clothing, as many initiated Sikhs do, and stated to security officers on three different occasions before entering the metal detector that he had "a religious symbol under my clothes." The marshals did not inquire as to the religious symbol, expressed that it was fine to enter, only informing him that he had to deposit his cellphone and camera with one of the marshals. When Sachdev Singh passed under the metal detectors, he was promptly arrested and both his kirpan and his turban were stripped away from him forcibly. Sachdev Singh was charged with possession of a dangerous weapon and forced to post bail in the amount of $2,500.

UNITED SIKHS urges the Sikh community or any minority to continue to report incidents of discrimination of any kind, so that appropriate actions can be taken, by calling 1-888-243-1690 or emailing law@unitedsikhs.org

You may read a previous press release on Sachdev Singh's case at: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-30-06-2008-00.htm.

You may read a previous press release on a discrimination case assisted by UNITED SIKHS at: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-04-07-2008-00.htm

Issued By :
Manveer Kaur
International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy
Email: law@unitedsikhs.org


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