A Sikh man was detained by a police officer for openly carrying a ceremonial dagger in public - even though he is legally allowed to carry it. The sus
A Sikh man was detained by a police officer for openly carrying a ceremonial dagger in public – even though he is legally allowed to carry it.
The suspect, who has the kirpan in a sheath on his waist, tells the officer: ‘I’m a Sikh I can carry this if I want to.’
The incident happened on Bull Street in Birmingham and was uploaded to various social media pages yesterday, with a woman in the clip claiming it was over the ceremonial dagger.
Facebook page ‘British by paper- Punjabi by nature’ posted the video to their page yesterday captioned: ‘Police arrest Sikh man for carrying a kirpan.’
Pictured: Police detain a man in Birmingham city centre yesterday as he carries a kirpan
Last year the UK government made an exemption to the 2018 Offensive Weapons Bill to allow Sikhs to carry kirpans for religious reasons.
The clip shows a the man – who was not arrested – dressed in a traditional blue garment with a curved Kirpan about a foot in length strapped around his waist. The police officer is seen talking on the radio requesting back-up from other officers.
The officer then begins to explain the situation and why the man was stopped. The man just replies: ‘Why, why, why?’ The man begins to raise his voice as he speaks to bystanders.
The policeman then talks into his radio once more saying: ‘He’s a little bit aggro with me.’
The man points at a bus driver and asks the officer: ‘Could you call that bus driver, he goes to my temple.’
A woman is then heard saying: ‘They are arresting him for no reason for wearing a kirpan.’
The Sikh man then walks towards the bus driver, and the officer tries to stop him. The officer says: ‘Sir I need you to not wander around while I’ve got you detained.’
The officer can been seen holding onto the Sikh man’s arm as a crowd gathers around.
Are Sikhs permitted to carry kirpans in public?
The Offensive Weapons Bill of 2018 increased the number of items that are prohibited in public places.
The crackdown came after a spate of acid attacks and stabbings across the country and during a year in which London’s murder rate overtook that of New York.
The bill widened the definition of offensive weapons to include flick knives.
It also made it a crime to carry a corrosive substance in a public place without ‘good reason’.
But in late 2018, the Bill had to be amended to ensure that Sikhs were still able to practise a key tenet of their faith, the carrying of a kirpan.
This meant introducing an exception to the carrying of blades in public.
Kirpans vary in size, but all are permitted by the Bill that received Royal ascent.
So although it is illegal to be caught with a small flick knife in public, a kirpan as large as 50cm is not considered an offensive weapon under UK law.
The video has been viewed over 30,000 times and has divided many in the comments.
Gad Khalsasports Khalsagirls claimed: ‘Lack of education from the officer. He could have handled it better… definitely needs to reflect on his training and working with the public.’
Raggy Bhoy Singh added: ‘Police should be taught the law before being released on the general public.’
Qamar Raja wrote: ‘There are so many people on here who think they know it all, for God’s sake do a little research, Sikhs in this country are allowed by law to wear their Kirpan and they wear it however they want.’
However, many feel the officer was well within his rights to stop the man. Mike Bailey said: ‘Why should anyone be treated differently from the laws of the country which they have chosen to stay/settle in, religion or not, the law is the law.’
Rahul Phillip added: ‘But it could pose as a public threat considering someone could pull it out and use it. Keep it secured, hidden. UK has perhaps the highest cases of knife attacks.’
Gemma West wrote: ‘At the end of the day, that can be used as a weapon and to see that people can find it intimidating. Keep it at home.’
This comes after a Sikh man was stopped by police for carrying a Kirpan at Gatwick airport.
The Sikh man has now called upon for more education on their ceremonial dagger, and what it means to the religion.
A Kirpan is part of a religious commandment in which Sikhs must wear five articles of faith at all times.
Under the Offensive Weapons Act 2019 it states if a person can provide justification and evidence their bladed article is used for ‘religious reasons only’ then it can be used as a ‘defence’ should that person be charged with the possession of an offensive weapon.
An insider from the British Sikh Council said today: ‘If he’s a practicing Sikh then there shouldn’t be an issue.’
A spokesman for West Midlands Police said: ‘Police on patrol in Birmingham city centre spoke to a man who was acting aggressively just before 6:30pm on Monday 5 August in Dale End. He was advised regarding his behaviour and no further action was taken.’
What is a kirpan and why are the blades important to some Sikhs?
The kirpan is a ceremonial blade that varies in size, with the larger ones being about 50cm.
Like the Sikh religion, it originates from India and is central to the faith for historical reasons.
Guru Gobind Singh, a revered leader in the religion, established the importance of the kirpan in 1699.
Pictured: A Sikh holds a kirpan by his side as mandated by 17th century tradition
Pictured: A Sikh holds his kirpan in the top of his turban, which holds up his uncut hair
Singh decreed that Sikhs wear the ceremonial blade as part of his articles of faith, which are sometimes referred to as the Five Ks.
As well as carrying the kirpan, Sikhs were told to wear the kara (an iron wristband) and kachera, which is a type of boxer short with a draw string at the waist.
He also instructed the faithful never to cut their hair (a tenet called kesh) and carry a kanga (wooden comb).
The guru said that followers should wear or carry the Five Ks at all times, meaning that for traditionalists it is central to their daily religious observance.
For less conservative Sikhs, the kirpan may be reserved for special occasions or ceremonial events.