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Posted at: Jun 19, 2017, 1:52 AM; last updated: Jun 19, 2017, 3:03 AM (IST)

Sikh man held for carrying kirpan

Sikh man held for carrying kirpan

Washington, June 18

A 33-year-old Sikh convert was handcuffed and arrested in the US for carrying a kirpan after a customer at a grocery store called police. Harpreet Singh Khalsa, who was born as Justin Smith, has worn the ceremonial knife known as a kirpan every day since he converted to Sikhism nine years ago.

Khalsa, who owns a catering business, was quoted by The Baltimore Sun as saying that he has been stopped multiple times by police, and was arrested again last week outside a grocery store in Catonsville, Maryland, after a customer called police.

Khalsa said he explained to the officers that the knife is part of his religion, but they frisked him, took the kirpan, placed him in handcuffs and drove him to the local precinct.

Khalsa was later released without charges, after police “confirmed that the knife was a kirpan and part of his religion, and not a threat to the community,” Baltimore County Officer Jennifer Peach was quoted as saying.

She said the department is providing education and guidance to its officers about Sikhs and their culture.

Stressing on the importance of the kirpan, Khalsa said, “We don’t consider it a knife, but a visual reminder to stand up to justice.” “The kirpan obligates a Sikh to the ideals of generosity, compassion and service to humanity,” Harsimran Kaur, legal director of the New York-based Sikh Coalition, was quoted as saying. — PTI


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