Akal Takht, SGPC slam NYPD for preventing Sikh trooper to grow beard

The Sikh authorities condemned the incident and urged Indian and US authorities to protect Sikh rights in the USA.

Rishika Bhardwaj

The Akal Takht and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) expressed strong condemnation over the New York Police Department's (NYPD) refusal to permit a Sikh trooper from growing a beard for his wedding. The denial was based on safety claims, citing that the beard would hinder the effectiveness of the gas mask. 

A Sikh trooper based in New York had made a formal request to grow his beard in line with Sikh religious practices for his wedding. 

Reacting to the incident, Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Raghbir Singh emphasized that the religious beliefs and customs of Sikhs are well-established and no longer require any introduction. He cited the example of Sikhs winning a legal battle to serve in the US military.

SGPC Chief Harjinder Singh Dhami called for immediate intervention from Minister of External Affairs of India Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and United States Secretary of State Antony John Blinken, saying, “The Government of India should take cognizance of this issue and ensure the protection of rights of Sikhs in the USA.”

He further added, “It is the unfortunate policy of NYPD to force Sikhs employed with it to shave beard by giving the reason for safety issues regarding the use of a gas mask, which can easily be worn by tying unshorn beard while on such duty. Initiated Sikhs do not cut hair, keeping hair unshorn for a lifetime is one of the commitments towards the Sikh religion. Under such a policy, Sikhs are being forced away from their religion.” 

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