Australia’s Sikh community has slammed the decision by the New South Wales Government to ban the ‘Kirpan’in NSW schools.
In a media release, the Australian Sikh Association (ASA) has said that the Government’s decision to impose the ban “contravenes a statutory right to wear a Kirpan for religious reasons.”
Earlier, NSW government had banned carrying a Kirpan (Sikh religious knife) to schools from Wednesday after a stabbing incident, which landed one high school student in hospital and another in court.
On Monday, the NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian had said that she was quite “taken back” to learn that students could carry knives into schools on religious grounds.
“Students should not be allowed to take knives into school under any circumstances, and I think it doesn’t pass the common sense test. Even if they’re not using weapons, others might take them from them, so I was very taken back when I learnt that. I will be speaking to the Education Minister about it. My strong view is that no student should be allowed to take a weapon to school, full stop,” she said.
According to ASA, “The ban has been imposed without taking the Sikh community into confidence, or consultation, in response to an alleged incident involving a 14-year-old Sikh student, who is believed to have been bullied in school. He is alleged to have used his Kirpan that, regrettably, resulted in injury to another student at a Sydney school.”
“The Sikh community unanimously condemns bullying and the consequences that follow, if bullying is left unchecked. We also offer any support required to both the students involved in this incident, and to their families,” ASA added.
ASA called upon the State Government to withdraw the ban and work with the Sikh community to arrive at a workable solution that gurantees the safety of all Australians “while maintaining the right to practice our religion.”
ASA also urged the State Government to address “issues related to bullying of Sikh students that might go unreported by establishing a task force.”