The Times of India – Census battle won, Pakistan Sikhs now to fight for ‘kirpan’ right

Yudhvir Rana

Amritsar, 3 April 2017. With Pakistan’s Sindh High Court paving the way for including “Sikh” as a religion in the neighbouring country’s ongoing census, the minority community there has now set its sights on allowing them to wear the “kirpan”, one of the five compulsory articles of faith for a baptized Sikh, in public.

The Karachi-based lawyer who had filed an appeal in the high court over the census issue, Hira Singh, said Sikhs were not legally allowed to wear the kirpan and often faced harassment from the police for doing so. “The kirpan is considered a weapon, not a religious symbol by the authorities,” he said, talking to TOI over the phone on Sunday.

Giving an example of how Sikhs are harassed for wearing the kirpan, he said a baptized Sikh man had to bribe policemen with Rs 2,000 for wearing his religious symbol near Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Lahore. “The cops took the money and also the kirpan,” he said. “The problem is that this is quite common for baptized Sikhs in Pakistan.”

The vice-president of Sri Guru Nanak Sant Sangh Sabha, Gurdwara Aram Bagh (Karachi), Raj Singh, said Sikhs were pleased to have won legal battle for including Sikhism as a separate religion in the country’s census.

“Now, it is time to begin another movement: This time for allowing us to wear our religious symbol without any trouble with the law,” he said.

Hira Singh said he had written to the chief minister and home secretary of Sindh province and requested them to issue a notification to grant Sikhs their “legal right”. “In the support of my arguments, I have quoted the history of Baisakhi and the order of 10th Sikh master, Guru Gobind Singh, on things that are compulsory for an Amritdhari Sikh,” he said.

“If the chief minister rejects my demand, I will file a constitutional petition in Sindh high court, Karachi, under Article 199 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973.

I will challenge the state for violating Article 20 of the constitution, which allows all citizens to profess their religion without hindrance of the state,” he said.


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