Washington DC, USA: Sikh students enrolled in 61 schools run by the National Heritage Academies in the US have been allowed to carry ‘kirpan’, a symbol of their faith, subject to certain restrictions.
The National Heritage Academies (NHA), which runs its schools in the states of Michigan, Ohio, Colorado, Indiana, North Carolina and New York, has allowed Sikh children to carry ‘kirpan’ in the institutions, a statement issued by the United Sikhs, a Sikh advocacy group, said. It all started when Sukhmeet Kaur, a Sikh student in the 8th grade, was ordered by school authorities to remove her ‘kirpan’ during school hours or not to come to school at all. After being approached by her father, Gobinder Singh, the United Sikhs’ legal team wrote to the school, the Endeavour Charter Academy at Springfield in Michigan.
“It really affects a child’s growth when they cannot practise their faith freely. It is important for my daughter to have her freedom of religion, especially since she made her own commitment to become ‘amrit-dhari’ last year,” Singh said.
However, NHA has imposed certain restrictions under which students are required to inform school before wearing ‘kirpan’. The students and parents need to sign an agreement and the blade must be dull and under three inches long.
Further, the ‘kirpan’ must be sewn tightly into its sheath and worn under the clothing so that it is not visible. The students should not remove it from its sheath or from under clothing in school and they must allow periodic inspections to ensure the conditions are being fulfilled.