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Sikh Student Handcuffed for Wearing Kirpan in US, University Apologises

The student is heard offering to "take the whole thing off" but is instead handcuffed by the police officer.

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A Sikh student in the University of North Carolina at Charlotte was handcuffed for wearing a kirpan – a holy dagger carried by orthodox Sikhs – on campus grounds, even after offering to remove it.

The incident took place in the United States on Thursday, 22 September, but only came to light on Saturday when the student posted a video on Twitter.

The video shows a student stopping a police officer from reaching for his kirpan. The student is then heard offering to "take the whole thing off" but is instead handcuffed by the police officer.

"I wasn't going to post this, but I don't think I will receive any support from @unccharlotte. I was told someone called 911 and reported me, and I got cuffed for "resisting" because I refused to let the officer take my kirpan out of the miyaan," he wrote.

"Update for the masses: I received my kirpan back thank you all for the continuous support," the student later posted on Twitter.

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Will Use This as a Learning Opportunity: University

In a statement, the University's chancellor Sharon Gaber and the chief diversity officer Brandon Wolfe said that the UNC Charlotte dispatch received a 911 call reporting someone with a knife in the building.

"Police officers responded to the scene and engaged the individual in question. During this interaction, the individual was placed in handcuffs while officers took possession of the object. The handcuffs were removed after the object was retrieved," the statement said.

"State law and University policy prohibit the possession of a knife or other edged instruments on campus, but we will use this as a learning opportunity by engaging in constructive dialogue with Sikh students and employees."
Sharon Gaber, Chancellor, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

The statement said that the university administration is confident it can find reasonable measures and educational opportunities that "both protect the safety of our campus and the religious practices of our community members."

"Our diversity makes us a better, richer, more successful community.  We want every Niner to feel welcomed, supported and safe. We apologize that is not what this young man felt in our union yesterday.  We are committed to ensuring it doesn’t happen again," it added.

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‘Officer Must Be Reprimanded and Trained'

Several users on Twitter responded to the incident with outrage.

"I must admit I was unaware of kirpan, the significance, or that it has legal exemptions. But then again, I am not a campus police officer on a multicultural campus. Seems like the people we pay to enforce laws, should be well educated in our laws. @unccharlotte needs to fix this," a user wrote.

"This must be looked into and the officer must be reprimanded and trained so that he knows the legality of baptised Sikhs carrying religious items. There have never been any problems with Sikhs carrying these for many years," another user noted.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa also shared the video on Twitter condemning the "discriminatory attitude" of university authorities.

"We demand an apology from Campus Police and Univ Admn at @unccharlotte that detained a Sikh youth for his Kirpan, a quintessential part of Sikh Kakars," Sirsa added.

The five Kakars, symbols of the Khalsa, comprise the kesh (unshorn hair and beard), kangha (a comb for the kesh), kara (a bracelet, usually made of iron or steel), kachera (a white undergarment), and kirpan (a small curved sword of any size, shape, or metal).

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Topics:   United States   Sikh Community   Kirpan 

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Edited By :Tejas Harad
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