SGPC seeks MEA intervention against NYPD’s ‘discriminatory’ policies

SGPC president wrote to the External Ministry after a Sikh trooper in the NYPD was denied permission to grow his beard for his wedding

Yasmin Tinwala

India’s apex religious organization for Sikhs, the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), has reached out to India’s External Minister Dr S. Jaishankar, and Indian envoy to the U.S. Taranjit Sandhu, to voice concern over the New York Police Department's (NYPD) refusal to allow a Sikh trooper from growing a beard.

As per media reports, NYPD trooper Charanjot Tiwana, stationed in Jamestown, requested permission to grow his beard in March 2022 for his wedding but was denied on the basis that it posed a safety issue during the use of a gas mask.

Wrote to Indian Ambassador to USA @SandhuTaranjitS & Union MEA Shri @DrSJaishankar, to raise a strong objection to discriminatory policy of @NYPDnews of forcing Sikh troopers to cut hair & protect the rights of Sikh community.

— Harjinder Singh Dhami (@SGPCPresident) August 1, 2023

Raising a strong objection to the NYPD's policy, Dhami wrote, “Being the constitutional and representative organization of the Sikh community in India, we would like to submit on the subject matter that the initiated Sikhs do not cut hair and keeping hair unshorn for a lifetime is one of the commitments towards the Sikh religion.”

He further added, “By adopting such a discriminatory policy, the Sikhs are being forced away from their religion by NYPD, thus also limiting employment opportunities for the initiated/practising Sikh community…” Highlighting the contributions of Sikh Americans, Dhami urged the US Embassy in New York and the Indian Government to look into the matter so that the department's policies and demanded that the department's policies are amended to protect the religious rights of Sikhs.

There were 190 Sikh police officers working with the NYPD in 2018, 10 of whom were women, as per a report citing information from the Sikh Officers Association, the number has grown since then.

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