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Sikh students now can carry Kirpan in 61 US schools

world Updated: Sep 25, 2009 21:44 IST

IANS
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Sikh students enrolled in 61 schools run by the National Heritage Academies in the US have been allowed to carry a Kirpan, a symbol of their faith, subject to certain restrictions.

The National Heritage Academies (NHA), which runs its schools in the states of Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, New York, North Carolina and Ohio, has allowed Sikh students to carry a Kirpan in the institutions, said a statement issued by the United Sikhs, a Sikh advocacy group.

It all started when Sukhmeet Kaur, a Sikh student in the 8th grade, was ordered by school authorities to remove her 'Kirpan' during school hours or not to come to school at all.

After being approached by her father Gobinder Singh, the United Sikhs' legal team wrote to the school, the Endeavour Charter Academy at Springfield in Michigan.

"It really affects a child's growth when they cannot practise their faith freely," Gobinder Singh said. "It is important for my daughter to have her freedom of religion, especially since she made her own commitment to become amrit-dhari last year."

Under restrictions imposed by the National Heritage Academies, students are required to inform school officials before wearing the Kirpan to school. The student and their parents are also required to sign an agreement that acknowledges that they will abide by the restrictions.

Additionally, the Kirpan blade must be dull and under three inches long and the Kirpan must be sewn tightly into its sheath, and worn under the clothing so that it is not visible.