Wednesday, August 30, 2006

"Are You Carrying a Gun?"

A while ago someone requested that I write about my experiences of wearing a Kirpaan and challenges I have come across with security guards. So I've decided to write about one of the incidents and how it was dealt with.

During the first a month and so of university I wore a small 6 inch Kirpaan on top of my clothes and a half sleeve jacket on top. During lectures I would remove my jacket, which allowed students to see the Kirpaan and then ASK QUESTIONS. Gradually as people got used to it and were able to ask questions I was less conscious of covering the Kirpaan with my coat jacket. Lectures and students were happy with it and felt COMFORTABLE with it. So after this I started wearing my LARGER Kirpaan and students and lecturers my department were totally okay with it. I realised that all one needs to do is be CONFIDENT and be able to provide SHORT & SWEET information about the Kirpaan and reasons for wearing it. All the people who found out about it were very RESPECTFUL.

It was my FIRST YEAR at university and end of term ESSAY DEADLINES were looming. So I went to the library to get some books. My kirpaan was over my clothes but on top of that I had a LARGE COAT. I was browsing through the computer and then walked to the Theology books where I decided to sit down and study. Its really QUIET in the library and I was feeling slightly hungry but I thought, chalo sit study for an hour and then take the books back to Halls of Residence.

30 minutes later 2 BIG LOOKING African security guards came up to me and said, "Please STAND UP and come with us." I was bit startled and thought "Chalo, let's see what they want." They took me around the corner and said, "We have reason to believe you are carrying a GUN". I was like "A GUN?" One security guard looked more aggressive than the other. He looked more like a Night-club BOUNCER (well what I would imagine one to look like!).

I opened my coat and showed my 11inch Kirpaan. He became ANGRY and said "TAKE IT OFF, take it off now." I said, "It's an Article of Faith, which is a requirement of my religious uniform." He said, "Err... Religion? Well you take it off and give it to us. Every time you come to the library you give it to reception and collect it on leaving." I calmly and politely said, "I will NOT do that. Under the 1996 Criminal Justice Act, Section 129, Sikhs are allowed to wear the Kirpaan as it is part of the Sikh religion and an Article of Faith. It is not an OFFENSIVE weapon. Do you know that by you asking me to REMOVE my Kirpaan, you are acting ILLEGALLY and can be PROSECUTED for RACIAL DISCRIMINATION and violation of HUMAN RIGHTS, which result in you losing your jobs?" Both security guards became SILENT and panicked and ended up walking in their walkie-talkies and telling their boss that this young man claims he is wearing a small sword which is a part of his religious uniform. In the next minute or so both security guards left and just said "OKAY" to me.

I sat back down and continued doing my work. 10 minutes later a member of the library staff came over me and said that he APOLOGISED for the inconvenience caused to me and that he knew about the 5Ks and how wearing the Kirpaan is part of the Sikh uniform. He also apologised for the OVER-REACTION of the security guards. As a consequence of this I wrote a letter to the DEAN of the College and met him in person. He apologised for the incident and said that the staff should have known about the Kirpaan. Also an email was sent to all departments to forward to students to explain that initiated Sikhs wear the 5Ks and information about the Kirpaan. So with Guru's Kirpaa when a non-Sikh student sees someone openly wearing a Kirpaan they don't get scared and feel COMFORTABLE.


Sifar said...

I was surfing the web and came across this news article that further illustrates the double standard of Indian Government and that of its opposition as well. On one hand they claim to be democratic and secular and at the same time they want people of other beliefs (non Hindus) to sing the praises of some deity (here Mother India) in the name of patriotism…

I just thought that readers might be interested in reading this news article.

Please click here to read the complete news article...

Chardi Kala….

gurjeet kaur said...

amazing! we should all have the confidence and knowledge to fully explain the reason behind our kakaars.

Singhstah said...

YOU GO SINGH! wikid way to handle the situation

Prabhu Singh said...

Manvir Singh Khalsa Ji!
That's awesome, I wish we had a clearly defined law like that in the US.
I had a very negative experience with my kirpan when I was in Washington DC. Thinking back, I would have done things different now.
Good job.

Kaur said...



Kaur said...