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Charges Against A Sikh-American Carrying A Kirpan At Airport Dropped

NEW YORK – A US court here has dismissed criminal charges against a Sikh for carrying a kirpan to a city airport. The New York City Port Authority Police Department had in May issued criminal summons to Maninder Singh for carrying two kirpans through security checkpoint at the John F Kennedy International airport here.

The summons had charged Singh with violating city federal rules, which prohibit carrying of knives with blade lengths of four inches or more. Singh had faced a USD 300 fine as well as imprisonment of up to 15 days.

The Queens Criminal Court dismissed the criminal summons after rights group Sikh Coalition’s staff attorney Gurjot Kaur represented Singh during a hearing where Kaur explained the religious significance of Singh’s kirpans and the peaceful nature of his religious practice, the Sikh Coalition said in a statement.

Kaur also argued that the law in question provided many secular and recreational exemptions, including exemptions for individuals who carry knives for fishing, hunting and camping purposes and for members of the Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts. She said the law should provide an exemption to Sikhs who carry kirpans as part of their First Amendment right to freely exercise their religion.

She cited a similar case in 1987 where the court had dismissed all criminal kirpan charges against the Sikh defendant. — PTI

The case

The New York City Port Authority Police had in May issued criminal summons to Maninder Singh for carrying two kirpans through security checkpoint at the John F Kennedy International airport

Singh had faced a $300 fine as well as imprisonment of up to 15 days

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