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Sikhs distraught over lack of law on ‘Kirpan’


Sikhism entails following the five K’s, namely Kesh, Kara, Kanga, Kaccha, and Kirpan, but Sikhs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) feel they are being deprived from following one of the five.
The constitution guarantees freedom of religion but the religious practice of carrying a Kirpan, which is a steel sword or dagger, is curtailed due to security concerns. Adult Sikhs usually carry a 4 to 5 inch Kirpan, kept in a sheath, which can be worn under or over clothing. The Kirpan amongst other things symbolises the struggle against injustice and is an integral part of the religion.
The Sikh community of the province has been pushing for legislation to be allowed permission to carry the Kirpan when they visit government offices, enter the court or police station, and during air travel. Ranjeett Singh, a minority member of the provincial assembly, has been the most vocal about such legislation ever since he was not allowed to carry the steel sword in the provincial assembly.
Ranjeett, while talking to The Express Tribune, informed, “when I enter the assembly, I am often asked to leave my sword outside due to which the Kirpan has to be kept in my car or briefcase.” He said that being told to not carry the sword was hurtful to his religious sentiments.
The provincial lawmaker is not alone, Baba Gurpal Singh, a Sikh Social Worker from Peshawar and a Minister for Minority Affairs in the Youth Assembly K-P, shares his hurt. “Guru made five things obligatory for us and to not be allowed to do one is distressing,” he said.
Gurpal, narrating a story about the freedom to carry the sword in other countries, said, “a few years back I went to Malaysia and visited their parliament there but no one even asked whether I was wearing a Kirpan or not.” He implored that it was high time legislation should be enacted so that the 45,000 Sikhs in the province were not deprived any further of their religious freedom.
Dr Sahib Singh, a member of the National Peace Council and leader of the Sikh community in Peshawar, told The Express Tribune, that recently during a meeting with the Chief Justice of Pakistan in Islamabad on the occasion of minorities day, they raised their voices on the Kirpan issue. “The Chief Justice announced permission to let Sikhs enter with the swords in all four High Courts and the Supreme Court but no formal notification has been issued so far,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 1st, 2021.

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