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US in the News - Sikh News Network


Sikh body launches signature campaign in favour of prisoner
Sept 12 , 2008


NEW YORK: In a bid to mobilise opinion in favour of Sikh prisoner Jagmohan Singh Ahuja, whose hair was allegedly chopped off by authorities in a Florida prison, a Sikh body has launched a signature campaign against forcing prisoners of the community to cut their hair.


United Sikhs, a US-based advocacy group, which termed the incident in July as "gross violation" of religious rights plans to continue efforts to get the right to keep 'kesh', with their members and lawyers approaching Flordia Governor and officials of Duval county jail in Jacksonville, the body said in a statement.


Though the Federal Bureau of Prison and other States allow Sikhs to retain 'kesh', Duval country jail and the Sheriff department have taken a strong stand against it.


"We cannot do so if religious practices compromise the security and safety of correctional facilities. It is required that all sentenced inmates have short hair and not wear head covering in order to prevent hiding contraband and/or weapons," Sheriff office spokeswoman Lauri-Ellen Smith said.


"We're well within our rights to cut his hair and we will continue to do so," Assistant Chief Redman of Duval Counry Jail added.


Meanwhile, United Sikhs' Staff Attorney Jaspreet Singh voiced concern that Jagmohan's hair will be cut again in the near future.


"It is deeply disturbing that the jail would refuse to make any accommodation where examples exist in other ostensibly more secure prisons," he said.


United Sikhs said they are "working aggressively" on a possible in court solution as well, but the current law is not favourable to Jagmohan's position.


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