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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014

Charges dropped against Sikh for carrying Kirpan to airport

PTI  New York, July 23, 2014
First Published: 11:23 IST(23/7/2014) | Last Updated: 11:36 IST(23/7/2014)

A US court here has dismissed criminal charges against a Sikh man for carrying a kirpan to a city airport.

The New York City Port Authority Police Department in May had issued a 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 fifteen days.

The Queens Criminal Court dismissed the criminal summons after rights group Sikh Coalition's staff attorney Gurjot Kaur represented Singh during a hearing at 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 provides 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.

Kaur 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.

The court 'agreed with the reasoning and dismissed all criminal charges' against Singh, the rights group said, adding that all Sikhs should be encouraged to practice their faith fearlessly.

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