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After NYPD Restricts Sikh Troopers from Growing Beards, SGPC Seeks MEA Help

The SGPC has sought intervention over a policy which claims that Sikh policemen growing a beard is a safety issue.

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South Asians
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Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Harjinder Singh Dhami lodged his objection to a New York Police Department (NYPD) policy to stop Sikh policemen from growing their beard and wrote a letter to Indian Ambassador to the United States (US) Taranjit Singh Sandhu.

Dhami has sought intervention from External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and said that the policy, which claims that Sikh policemen growing a beard is a safety issue, was not rational.

In the letter, which was posted to Twitter, the SGPC president said:

“Stopping Sikh policemen from growing beards on the basis that it posed a safety issue regarding the use of gas masks is wrong. Even if a Sikh trooper has a fully grown beard, the gas mask can easily be worn by tying the unshorn beard while serving on such a duty. An example of this is the Sikh soldiers serving in the Indian Army, one of the world’s top military forces."
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The SGPC says that if Sikhs serving in the Indian Army could keep their beards while joining one of the top military forces, the NYPD could follow suit.

“Even if a Sikh trooper has a fully grown beard, the gas mask can easily be worn by tying the unshorn beard while serving on such a duty. An example of this is the Sikh soldiers serving in the Indian Army, one of the world's top military forces,” said Dhami.

Moreover, he said that "initiated" Sikhs do not cut their hair, which remain unshorn for their whole life and signifies their commitments towards Sikhism and its Gurus, and added that the NYPD's "discriminatory policy" is forcing Sikhs "away from their religion by the NYPD, thus also limiting employment opportunities for the initiated Sikh community in a democratic country like the US."

Last week, reports emerged regarding State Trooper Charanjot Tiwana, stationed in Jamestown, New York, who faced a concerning situation.

It was revealed that Trooper Tiwana had indeed submitted a religious accommodation request, as confirmed by the NY State Police. However, the department's spokesperson, Deanna Cohen, declined to comment on the specific outcome of the request, including when or why it was declined.

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In response to the situation, the department emphasised its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion within its ranks.

"We value diversity, equity and inclusion among our ranks. As with every request for religious or medical accommodation for any NYSP employee, we engage in the reasonable accommodation process."

This incident comes in the wake of another recent development, where a US court directed the Marines to allow Sikh recruits to maintain their beards and turbans for religious reasons.

Such instances highlight the ongoing struggle for religious freedom and accommodation within various professional settings.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  New York   sikhs   NYPD 

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