Jump to content

Felony Charges against Sikh woman dropped


Recommended Posts

July 02, 2004

(Dayton, OH) A county prosecutor dropped felony charges against a Sikh woman who mistakenly attempted to board an airplane with her kirpan. The prosecutor dropped the charges after the Sikh Coalition intervened in the case.

Anoop Kaur attempted to board an American Airlines flight from Dayton, Ohio to San Francisco California to visit her father on March 30, 2004. Her father had recently been hospitalized after suffering a stroke. Anoop Kaur's daughter and niece were to accompany her on the trip. After checking in for the flight, Anoop Kaur attempted to pass through an airport metal detector. The metal detector beeped when she went through. She immediately realized that she had forgotten to stow her kirpan in her checked baggage.

Anoop Kaur informed federal Transportation Security Administration screeners that she had her kirpan on her person. The security screeners responded by pulling her aside and placing her alone in a security room. She was told that she would have to wait until Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents arrived.

While her daughter and niece waited outside, Anoop Kaur was left alone in the security room. Once inside, she tried to explain in broken English to Dayton police officers that she had made a mistake, and that she never intended to carry her kirpan on the plane. According to Federal Aviation Administration guidelines, federal security screeners are advised to request Sikh air travelers to stow their kirpan in checked baggage, rather than request law enforcement to arrest or interrogate them.

Anoop Kaur remained in the security room for five hours until the FBI cleared her and missed her flight. When she and her daughter and niece requested that they be allowed to board the next flight to San Francisco their request was denied. Airline officials also refused to refund their tickets.

A week later, Anoop Kaur received a call from the Dayton police informing her that they had decided to press felony criminal charges against her for carrying her kirpan into the airport. Distraught over the situation, her family contacted the Sikh Coalition.

The Coalition immediately responded to the family's request for help by taking the following steps:

The Coalition's Legal Director contacted the Montgomery County Prosecutor's Office in Dayton, OH requesting that it not pursue the criminal charges against her.

"The Coalition's Legal Director sent a detailed letter to the prosecutor's office. The letter explained the significance of the kirpan as a Sikh article of faith; described previous kirpan cases fought by the Coalition; and cited a past Ohio case and a statement by a Rhode Island Deputy Attorney General about kirpan-related criminal charges. The document also detailed how the response of airport personnel and police deviated from Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines. In 2001, the Sikh Coalition helped the FAA develop these guidelines, which specify how a Sikh who accidentally brings a kirpan into an airport should be addressed.

With the help of the Coalition, the local Dayton Sikh community sent a letter of support to the prosecutor's office. The Coalition thanks the Dayton Sikh community for its assistance.

The Coalition made repeated contact with the prosecutor's office over the course of several weeks. Throughout this time, the Coalition kept Anoop and her family updated on the progress of the situation.

In an attempt to prevent such incidents in the future, the Coalition offered to conduct a training session for Dayton police officers on federal guidelines that discuss how Sikh airline passengers should be treated.

As a result of these efforts, the Montgomery County Prosecutor's Office in Dayton, OH dropped criminal charges against Anoop Kaur.

All Sikhs are encouraged to practice their faith without fearl. If you are told to remove your articles of faith, please contact the Sikh Coalition at legal@sikhcoalition.org and report the incident online at www.sikhcoalition.org/ListReports.asp.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...