The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has taken a serious note of reports that baptised ('amritdhari') Sikhs will be barred from entering stadiums during the cricket World Cup matches in Australia and New Zealand since they wear the kirpan (small sword). Reports said the ban was imposed due to security reasons.
Reacting to reports posted on an Australia-based website singhstation.net, SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar said in a statement issued here on Monday, "Sikhs are a peace-loving community; they are closely attached to their religion and beliefs. Baptised Sikhs have great respect for their religious symbols, including the kirpan, and wear them all the time."
Makkar appealed to the World Cup organisers to lift the ban. He pointed out that FIBA, the international basketball body, had banned Sikh players from wearing the 'patka' in international matches, but it had to revoke the ban following protests by Sikhs across the globe.
According to a report on singhstation.net, Harvinder Singh Garcha, a representative of an Australia-based Sikh group, Info Sikh Service Australia, has expressed concern over 'unconfirmed' reports of Sikhs with kirpan being debarred from entering World Cup venues.
The report stated that Garcha had raised this issue with the commissioner of police of Adelaide, which hosted the India-Pakistan clash. However, the commissioner had told him that the World Cup committee had taken this decision and the police was not responsible in this regard.
According to the site, there was no official statement on this subject from the World Cup organising committee or any private security agency. The website claimed that a negotiation had taken place, under which some volunteers would stand outside the match venues and collect all kirpans from spectators. These can be collected back by the 'amritdhari' spectators after the match.