Wednesday, March 09, 2022

SGPC flays ban on 'kirpan' for employees at airports

Amritsar: The recent orders of the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation putting restriction on carrying ‘kirpan’ (Sikh religious symbol) by the baptised Sikh employees on duty at the airport has invited the ire of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC).

Terming it as an attack on fundamental religious rights of Sikhs, SGPC president Harjinder Singh Dhami has written a letter to Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya M Scindia, expressing strong resentment against the order and demanded its withdrawal.

As per the notification dated March 4, on page 5 Section 20 (ii)(b), it is written that exemption shall be given to Sikh passengers only, whereas no stakeholder or its employee at airport (including Sikh) and working at any terminal, domestic or international, shall be allowed to carry a ‘kirpan’ on person.

As per the guidelines for a Sikh passenger, the ‘kirpan’ may be carried, provided the length of its blade does not exceed six inches and its total length does not exceed nine inches. It is allowed while travelling by air on Indian aircrafts within India (domestic routes of fully domestic flights operating from domestic terminals only).

The issue was also raised by an NGO — Amritsar Vikas Manch. Sandeep Singh Gumtala of Amritsar Vikas Manch said: “If Sikh passengers are allowed to wear a ‘kirpan’ on domestic flights, it is hard to believe that Sikh employees pose a greater security threat after undergoing security clearances. To my knowledge, Sikh employees at airports in UK, Canada are permitted to wear a ‘kirpan’ at the airside,” he said.

The SGPC president said: “The governments should refrain from adopting such policies which hurt the religious sentiments of the Sikhs.”

09/03/22 Tribune

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