Administration Cooperative When Approached by the Coalition
(Cambridge, Massachusetts) July 31, 2006 – Harvard University has returned a Sikh student’s kirpan as a result of the Sikh Coalition’s intervention. The student, Navdeep Singh, had voluntarily given his kirpan to a University administrator who requested that the administration be able to keep it while the university determined whether he would able to wear it on campus. The student’s kirpan was returned to him within hours after the Coalition’s intervention.
Navdeep Singh, a Harvard Summer School student, contacted the Coalition on July 6, 2006 because an Assistant Dean requested that he provide Harvard documentation on the religious nature of his kirpan and any legal authority supporting his right to carry it. The Coalition’s Legal Director provided Navdeep with the Coalition’s now standard twenty-eight page compilation of legal argument and precedent on the kirpan and the right to carry it. Navdeep in turn submitted the Coalition’s document to his Assistant Dean.
On July 11, 2006, the Dean of the Harvard Summer School summoned Navdeep to a 9:00 a.m. the next morning. That morning, the Dean told Navdeep that University officials had not yet decided whether he would be allowed to carry his kirpan while attending the summer school. He asked that Navdeep give his kirpan to him while University officials made their determination over the next two days. Navdeep complied with the request and parted with his kirpan.
Upset, Navdeep called the Coalition to request additional assistance. The Coalition’s Legal Director immediately placed calls to the Dean of the Summer School and Harvard’s Pluralism Project during the late morning of July 12. Staff at the Pluralism Project were able to pass along the Coalition’s concerns to administration officials.
At approximately 3:00 p.m. that afternoon Dean Christopher Queen, Lecturer on the Study of Religion and Dean of Students for Continuing Education in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences called the Coalition’s Legal Director to let him know that Navdeep’s kirpan would be returned to him that day and that he would be allowed to wear his kirpan during his summer courses at Harvard. Dean Queen was kind and apologetic in explaining that University officials needed time to understand Navdeep’s kirpan and the reasons he carries it.
Navdeep’s parents received a call from University officials to explain their action. Navdeep now proudly carries his kirpan as a summer school student at Harvard.The Coalition would like to thank Harvard’s Pluralism Project, Dean Queen, and the Harvard administration for its prompt attention to its concerns.
We urge all Sikhs to practice their faith fearlessly. If someone tells you to remove your articles of faith, please report the incident online atwww.sikhcoalition.org/ListReports.asp.
Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh!
I would like to thank the Coalition for helping me out. It is great to know there is a competent, capable resource out there for Sikhs to turn to”
Success: Eighteen Sikhs the Sikh Coalition Has Successfully Defended from Criminal Charges for Carrying the Kirpan
New York City v. Makhan Singh, November 8, 2001: The Queens District Attorney's office decides to drop weapons possession charges against Makhan Singh for wearing a one foot long kirpan openly over his clothing in John F. Kennedy Airport.
Knox County v. Charanjit Singh Dhadwal,December 6, 2001: The Knox County Prosecutor's office drops weapons possession charges against Charanjit Singh for carrying a kirpan on his person while he was driving his truck through Tennessee.
City of New York v. Harjit Singh and Lal Singh Jassal, January 2002: A judge in criminal court in Manhattan dismissed criminal charges against Harjit Singh and Lal Singh for wearing a kirpan after learning that the kirpan is a religious article of faith.
Menomee Falls v. Hargian Singh, August 29, 2002: Hargian Singh was given a citation for wearing a kirpan in Menomee Falls, Wisconsin. At trial the judge dismissed the charges and apologized to Hargian Singh after learning that the kirpan is a religious article of faith.
New York City v. Joginder Singh, October 31, 2002: A judge in criminal court in Manhattan dismissed criminal charges against Joginder Singh for wearing a kirpan after learning that the kirpan is a religious article of faith.
Scagville v. Avtar Singh and Hardeep Singh, February 19, 2003: Police in Scagville, Maryland release Avtar Singh and Hardeep Singh who they had detained for one hour after they received a faxed letter from the Sikh Coalition explaining that their kirpan are protected religious articles.
New York v. Kashmir Singh, April 13, 2004:A prosecutor in Manhattan drops criminal charges against a Sikh cab driver for carrying the kirpan.
State of Montana v. Sarjeet Singh and Gurnam Singh, April 20, 2004: A prosecutor in Big Horn County, Montana drops a kirpan prosecution against two Sikh truckers for carrying kirpans on their persons while driving through Montana.
Ohio v. Anoop Kaur Ahluwalia, May 12, 2004: Weapon possession charge dropped against a Sikh woman who entered an airport wearing her kirpan.
City of Bellevue v. Gagandeep Singh
September 17, 2004, criminal charges dropped for carry the kirpan by local prosecutors in Bellevue, Washington.
State of Washington, County of Kittitas v. Gajjan Singh Bal
July 28, 2004, criminal charges against a Sikh trucker are dropped for carrying his kirpan while working by local prosecutors in Kittitas County, Washington.
State of California v. Kamaldeep Singh
August 4, 2004, criminal charges against a Sikh student for carrying the kirpan while studying in the cafeteria are dropped by local prosecutors.
State of Michigan v. Bhagwant Singh
August 16, 2004, criminal charges against a Sikh for carrying his kirpan while waiting for his father in his car outside an airport are dropped by local prosecutors in Wayne County, Michigan.
Oregon vs. Gurpal Singh
October 1, 2004 - Prosecutors in Roseberg, Oregon decline to file criminal charges against Gurpal Singh (Gill), a Sikh truck driver who was issued a criminal citation for carrying his kirpan, after the Sikh Coalition intervenes.