SGPC hails Italian court verdict allowing Sikhs to wear ‘kirpan’
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has hailed the recent verdict of an Italian judicial court, permitting ‘amritdhari’ (baptised) Sikhs to wear the six-inch-long ‘kirpans’ (small swords).punjab Updated: Nov 27, 2014 21:34 IST
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has hailed the recent verdict of an Italian judicial court, permitting ‘amritdhari’ (baptised) Sikhs to wear the six-inch-long ‘kirpans’ (small swords).
The verdict was delivered a couple of days back by a court in Piacenza, a city in the Emila-Romagzareyn region of northern Italy. The verdict was delivered in a 2013 case involving the arrest and imprisonment of Talwinder Singh Wadali, president of the International Sikh Federation, a Sikh organisation of Italy.
Wadali, a baptised Sikh, was taken into custody by the Italian police in Piacenza, while he was moving in a public place wearing a ‘kirpan’, a Sikh religious symbol, and charges were framed against him under the ‘Army Act’.
During a year-long-trial, the defence counsel while pleading Wadali’s innocence maintained that the accused meant no harm to anyone. The defence explained in detail the importance of the ‘kirpan’ as an important Sikh religious symbol, which is worn by all baptised members of the community. The defence also presented a detailed note on Sikhism, explaining its important religious symbols, which gave its followers a separate identity.
Welcoming the court verdict, SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar said it came as a relief to the members of the community residing in Italy.
The community members have been subjected to a great deal of harassment at airports in Italy. They are often being asked questions about their religious symbols and at times even being asked to remove their turbans for a body search by airport security agencies.
He hoped that its impact would also be visible in other countries of the Europe.He indicated that the SGPC would ask the Sikhs to publicise the verdict in the European Union countries.
Makkar pointed out: “In recent years, Sikhs have often become targets of hate crime as they are mistaken for being members of another community. Due to security reasons, questions have been asked about the Sikh religious symbols, particularly about the ‘kirpan’.”
“We have been at pains to tell members of other communities the importance of our symbols.
We have explained time-and-again that the ‘kirpan’ is a weapon of defence and not for offence. Sikhs make use of the ‘kirpan’ to protect the weak and the oppressed and never to attack anyone,” said SGPC chief.
“The SGPC has taken pains to explain everything that there is to explain about the Sikhs and the Sikhism through literature supplied to embassies and diplomatic missions of countries in New Delhi,” he added.