Sikh man asked to take off kirpan in Australia bus


A Sikh man in Australia was asked to take off his kirpan and “get out” of a bus when a passenger called police in panic after seeing the ceremonial knife, a media report said today.

Police boarded a busy commuter bus in Auckland yesterday after a passenger was seen carrying a ceremonial knife, traditionally worn by Sikhs.
“We looked out the window and we could see and the police car behind us with sirens blaring and armed men all around us. One policeman stormed into the bus with a gun in his hand and said to the guy, ‘Get your hands up so we can see them and get out of the bus’,” New Zealand Herald quoted a witness as saying.

The passenger, thought to be in his 20s, was wearing a turban and had a long, curved “sword-like” kirpan strapped behind his back on the left side, which the police removed, said the witness.

A police spokeswoman said officers were called after a member of the public reported seeing a kirpan.

She said the armed offenders squad was not sent and the officers were not armed.

“Police spoke with the man, who is a Sikh.”

“He was in possession of a ceremonial kirpan, which is customary for Sikhs. The man, who is lawfully living in New Zealand, was polite and cooperative and no further action was taken,” the report said

The spokeswoman said the ceremonial kirpan was not confiscated.

A baptised Sikh has five articles of faith and the kirpan is one of them. The other four articles of faith are – kesh (uncut long hair), kanga (a comb), kara (an iron bracelet) and kachehra (under shorts).

Sikhism is a small but growing minority religion in Australia that can trace its origins in the nation to the 1830s.

Australia is home to more than 72,000 Sikh, a population that is expected to rise in this year’s census.

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