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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

Sikh student not allowed to board bus in US for wearing kirpan

PTI  Los Angeles, October 17, 2013
First Published: 21:50 IST(17/10/2013) | Last Updated: 13:04 IST(18/10/2013)

A Sikh student in California (US) was not allowed to board a bus after the driver objected to his wearing the kirpan (ceremonial dagger) and called the police.

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Harsimran Singh, a student of University of California in Davis, said he had travelled for the past two years with kirpan in full public view and did not face any issues until Saturday morning.

"They do not say anything. They always wish me safe travel, and they continue on with their business. They did not see me as a potential threat," Harsimran was quoted as saying by CBS news on Wednesday.

However, the driver of the Amtrak bus, Al Smithee, was concerned at the presence of a 'weapon' on the bus.

"I'm doing 70 miles (112 km) an hour down the freeway, and he slits my throat, and I crash and wreck, and kill five other people or on coming traffic. You don't know," he said.

Harsimran said he kept the blade sheathed 24 hours a day as something that protected him from more than physical dangers.

"[It's about] protecting yourself from evils, ideologies that would otherwise corrupt you," he said.

Symbolic or not, Smithee saw it and called the police. They agreed that Harsimran could get on board if he stowed the blade.

He declined the offer and called off the trip to see his family.

"For me, my faith is stronger to me. I wouldn't compromise it just for the happiness of somebody else," Harsimran said.

Smithee said the issue to him wasn't about religion, it was about rider safety. "I don't care who it was. If they have a knife sheath hanging down, it's a weapon," he added.

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