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US Sikh arrested, his kirpan, turban forcibly removed
WSN Network
July 09, 2008


CONNECTICUT: A Sikh truck driver was arrested and his turban forcibly removed after marshals in a Connecticut court found his kirpan on him when he went to contest a traffic violation.


Sachdev Singh, 47, a New Jersey resident, entered the State of Connecticut Superior Court in Stamford June 18. While passing through security, he told the officers that he had a five-inch kirpan under his clothing.


The kirpan, or blade, is a religious symbol that all Sikh men wear.


As soon as he passed under the metal detectors, he was promptly handcuffed. Both his kirpan and turban were taken away from him forcibly, according to the United Sikhs, a community organisation. Apparently, despite being told repeatedly about having a "religious symbol under his clothes", the marshals did not inquire as to what it was, only informing him that he had to deposit his cellphone and camera with one of the marshals.


After questioning, Sachdev Singh's handcuffs were removed, he was allowed to retie his turban, and then was placed under arrest for 'carrying a dangerous weapon.' Taken to jail, he was finger printed and his turban was again forcibly removed, United Sikhs said.


SGPC writes to US envoy 

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee has sent a letter to the U.S Ambassador to India David Mulford concerning various incidents that occurred recently in the U.S against Sikhs.


The body has also sent a letter to Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. The letter was prompted by reports about the Sikh truck driver in New York who was arrested for wearing a Kirpan while entering a Connecticut court to contest a traffic violation charge. SGPC President Avtar Singh Makkar said that it was quite unfortunate that attacks on Sikh identity were continuing unabated in different corners of the world.


It is happening despite the best efforts of their missions aboard and Sikh diaspora to bring about an awareness among the world community that Kirpan (small sword), hair and turban are among the essential of Sikh faith.

Sachdev Singh is now out on bail but faces the charge of possessing a dangerous weapon, which is punishable by up to $500 in fines or up to three years in prison or both. 'It was a great shock that state marshals handling security of a court of law would treat me in this manner,' said Sachdev Singh.


'I am concerned this incident will adversely affect my citizenship status, as I am applying for naturalisation,' he said.


Jaspreet Singh, staff attorney for United Sikhs, said: 'Prior case precedent in multiple states show that the kirpan is to be treated only as an article of faith and should never be classified as a dangerous weapon.' Under this charge, if the edge portion of the blade exceeds 4 inches in length, it is considered "a dangerous weapon." However, it is to be noted that the five-inch kirpan he was carrying at the time was so dull that the "edge" could be rubbed along one's hand without causing any harm. He was released from jail once he posted bail.


United Sikhs is trying to have the charges levied against Sachdev Singh dismissed and is exploring civil remedies to ensure that a training programme about Sikhs for the Connecticut state marshals is put into place to prevent any future recurrence of mistreatment of a Sikh.

Sikhs in different parts of the US have faced harassment over kirpan and turban, two of the five symbols of their faith. 

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