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Kirpan Problem Part Two...


Tarnjit Kaur
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Sikh Student Pulled off the bus because of his knife

Terrorism Task Force, FBI called in over weapon that is integral to faith.

By Kevin Kidder – kkidder@dispatch.com

His first name means "God’s prayer."

And prayers were what Gursimran Singh, 18, was counting with a mechanical clicker as he rode an Ohio State University bus this week — and what he’s done on the bus every day since school started a few weeks ago.

Singh, a devout Sikh and OSU freshman, also was wearing a turban on his head and a kirpaan, he said, is crucial to the Sikh religion. But fellow riders and the bus driver didn’t understand. Singh a Cincinnati native, was arrested Wednesday morning after OSU police officers stopped him as he got off the bus. The joint terrorism task force was called in, an OSU police report shows, and the FBI interrogated Singh. No charges were filed against Singh, said OSU Assistant Police Chief Rick Amweg, and within about 2 ½ hours, he was back in class.

“I was just shocked,†said Singh, who said he doesn’t harbour anger towards the officers and that he was treated with respect. He did question, though, why it took several officers to arrest him and two to handcuff him.

“I thought it only took one person,†he said yesterday afternoon. Though Singh didn’t know it at the time, the arrest was the culmination of an incident when he rode the bus about a week ago, when some other OSU students became suspicious and took pictures of him with cameras on their cell phones. Amweg said.

At the time, Singh was using his prayer clicker, which he said counts his prayers not unlike a Catholic’s rosary beads.

The students turned his picture over to OSU police, who then began a watch for Singh, Amweg said.

“Our concerns were that we needed to identify who he was, and what he was doing,†he said adding that he thought the students did the right thing.

In the course of trying to find Singh, police on Saturday stopped another Sikh student on the street, Amweg said.

That man was a second-year OSU medical student. He was questioned for about a half-hour and not charged. But on Wednesday, a bus driver recognized Singh from a picture police had circulated to OSU dirvers and raioed for police.

At least one member of the Sikh community said it’s a shame that those of his faith are lumped together with terrorists.

“After 9/11, people have become hypersensitive, or actually hyper defensive,†said Tarunjit Singh Butalia, a research scientist at OSU and faculty advisor to the OSU Sikh Student Association. “I think what happened here is an example.â€

Butalia, who is a member of the World Sikh Council, American region, urged people of different faiths to get to know one another.

As many as 36 students are Sikhs at OSU, and there are 100 Sikh families in Columbus, Butalia said.

“I would encourage people who see someone different to go up and to ask questions. “

Sikhs, with 20 million followers worldwide and their largest population in India and Pakistan, have never been tied to the Sept. 11 attack.

Prosecutors have considered charging Singh with carrying a concealed weapon, which Ohio code says is any “instrument, device or thing capable of inflcting death,†but case law exempts the kirpaan.

“We stand by the right to wear a kirpaan,†Butalia said.

The knife’s name means “bringer of “mercy†and represents the Sikh pledge to be ready to oppose oppression – but to never start a confrontation.

OSU police have agreed to be at the next meeting of the Sikh Student Assoication, and Sikh students will attend a police training seminar next quarter to foster communication, Butalia said.

Singh said he would to see everyone become more knowledgeable about differences.

“It would probably have been better if they (the students) had approached me, and asked me questions,†he said.

He remembers pre 9/11 days, when “you didn’t stand out.â€

And then there is now; “I mean, Osama bin Laden wears a turban.â€

Amweg said he doesn’t criticize the students for contacting police.

“I think we had good citizen involvement. They did what they should have and reported it, and it all worked out for the best.â€

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The smaller they are, the bigger their kirpan! Why would you where a kirpan that big on a bus in Ohio. This is America, anyone carrying a "knife", kirpan, that big, especially a person resembling America's public enemy number one should be taken off the bus and harrassed. I mean i too would be scared if i seen a shaky muslim with a clicker and a knife. I mean, my God!!!!!

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Education or not, Americans are drakhals!!! They get scared when anyone out of the ordinary just simply sneezes! What educates Americans today, is the media. When we see tv shows and movies about hijackers and terrorists, mechanical clickers and a large kirpans definetly means danger! To educate our society, we must be seen more in the media and the news. We must be distinguished from Muslims and "terrorist". We should show the love and peace that Sikhs contain within and for others!

Make love, not war! - Socrates, i think

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Guest Javanmard

Jokes apart: I hate those prayer clickers!!! This Wahabi invention from hell!!! Our Gurus used malas and I don't know why we should use this Wahabi stuff!!! I think what I hate most about it is the numbers: it's as if people had a simran account at the Vahiguru Bank Co.!!!

Just my khyal on this!!!

For the rest I really feel sorry for the Singhs in the USA. I do visit the States quite a lot and I get a lot of hastle myself including from other Sikhs who prefer to hide their kesh under a cap or a bandana instead of wearing a dastar. To all you guys out there in the States and who keep these gifts of Guru Gobind Singh: my love and respect!!!

Regarding kirpans: minimum size according to Sachkhand Hazur Sahib is one foot! The kirpan is not a symbol: it is a weapon and it should be sharp!!!

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Jokes apart: I hate those prayer clickers!!! This Wahabi invention from hell!!! Our Gurus used malas and I don't know why we should use this Wahabi stuff!!! I think what I hate most about it is the numbers: it's as if people had a simran account at the Vahiguru Bank Co.!!!

Just my khyal on this!!!

For the rest I really feel sorry for the Singhs in the USA. I do visit the States quite a lot and I get a lot of hastle myself including from other Sikhs who prefer to hide their kesh under a cap or a bandana instead of wearing a dastar. To all you guys out there in the States and who keep these gifts of Guru Gobind Singh: my love and respect!!!

Regarding kirpans: minimum size according to Sachkhand Hazur Sahib is one foot! The kirpan is not a symbol: it is a weapon and it should be sharp!!!

But if it must be sharp, then does it not become illegal to carry it? I'm not trying to fight, just saying then that it is a weapon. And I feel perfectly safe if I see a sikh with a kirpan, but what about other people. From their prespective they just see a person with a sharp knife.

Just wanted to hear your thoughts on this (anyone can answer)

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Guest Javanmard

Sorry to be such a pain but the proper maryada is: kirpan HAS TO BE SHARP! It is not a symbol but a weapon! The old Rahitnamas clearly refer to it as shastar i.e. weapon.

Regarding other people being afraid of it: it's all just a matter of education. I personaly haven't encountered that many problems after having explained to people why I carry it!

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it goes somethign like, waheguru "click" waheguru "click" waheguru "click", now for me that would disturb my concentration, but as i dnt pray at all it dnt matter :0

click click click,

*throws clicker on floor n steps on it.

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Guest Sardar Moderator Singh

I guess it would be something like this...

One commits to say 1008 repetitions of the Gurmantr each day, now given that one is busy working and travelling here and there, it is probably easier to maintain this commitment using this device rather than a mala which one would have to complete fully in order to have a "complete round", whereas here one, like the Singh in the case and clock up the jaap in the time he gets between things, here on the bus...

...not a particular fan myself, however this would seem to be a possible reason why they are favoured by some...I've usually come across AKJ Bibia when visiting B'ham, UK using these.

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