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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Sep 2014

DSGMC chief raises kirpan issue with Scottish govt

Manpreet Randhawa , Hindustan Times  Edinburgh, September 24, 2013
First Published: 01:08 IST(24/9/2013) | Last Updated: 01:19 IST(24/9/2013)

The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee has taken up the issue of the Sikhs residing in Scotland to allow them to carry kirpans in all jail premises as it is a symbol of faith for the community.

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DSGMC president Manjit Singh GK, who is currently touring the United Kingdom along with a nine-member delegation, brought the issue for deliberations during his meeting on Monday with the minister of state parliament (cabinet and secretary for justice), Kenny Mac A Skill of the Scottish government at his office.

GK told Kenny that the Sikh community had brought to his notice that whenever any member of the community had to undergo a jail sentence, no matter how minor or major, the Sikh clergy was not allowed to meet them without removing their kirpan.

"In one case a woman who had spent nearly 12 years in Edinburgh jail was not allowed to meet a Sikh priest just because he refused to take off his kirpan before going inside the jail premises. In such cases, sometimes the members undergoing a jail sentence do need the services of a Sikh priest to get solace out of the trauma they have been experiencing after the sentence," GK told the minister.

Kenny assured the delegation that he would discuss the issue with the senior cabinet colleagues of the Scottish parliament, and once cleared it may even be taken up for discussion in Parliament.
"I know this is a genuine issue and carrying a kirpan would in no way make a Sikh a criminal as it is a symbol of faith for the religion and the community. This awareness is already spreading around the natives of Scotland, especially among the authorities, and hence there should not be an issue to get a positive nod on the subject," Kenny assured the delegate.

Kenny was also instrumental in prevailing upon the Scottish government to allow the Sikhs to carry kirpan in the courts of law in Scotland.

"It has been a historical decision taken by the Scotland government on July 17 when it allowed Sikhs to carry kirpan in courts. The only condition is that they need to first inform the authorities so that once a Sikh goes to the court he or she should not have a problem with the local staff," said GS Shan and Jit Singh Mastana, who have been living in Glasgow for the last 40 years.


Kenny all praise for Sikhs

Minister of state parliament (cabinet & secretary for justice), Kenny Mac A Skill of the Scottish government was all praise for the Sikh community residing in Scotland.

"They are not criminals. They are wonderful people who have worked hard not only to do good for themselves but also to contribute a great deal to improve the economy of the United Kingdom. They wear their symbol of faith only as a mark of respect to their religion," he added.

Kenny said Scotland would want more Sikhs to come and settle down there. "I would even take up the issue with the UK government to allow more immigrants from India to England for the prosperity of this country," said Kenny. 

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