According to reports, an Italian delegation seeking approval of a modified kirpan met with Jathedar Gurbachan Singh on June 26, 2017, seeking the Akal Takht’s authorization for the modified design.
The modified kirpan would be produced in Italy, and issued to Sikhs with an individualized serial number and license. The proposed kirpan would be flexible and does not appear to have a tip or edge. Only these modified kirpans could be worn by Sikhs in Italy.
The WSO’s President, Mukhbir Singh has written to Jathedar Gurbachan Singh and SGPC President, Prof. Kirpal Singh Badungar, encouraging them to strongly reject any attempt to re-design the kirpan or have the kirpan produced and issued by Italian authorities.
The text of his letter is published in it’s entirety:
Singh Sahib G. Gurbachan Singh
Jathedar, Sri Akal Takht Sahib
Sri Amritsar, Punjab
Dear Jathedar Sahib,
We are writing to express our concern with respect to the recent presentation by an Italian delegation led by S. Sukhdev Singh Kang of a “specially designed” kirpan for approval by Sri Akal Takht Sahib.
The kirpan being presented for approval is reportedly made of a flexible material and appears to have a rounded tip and no edge. Each kirpan is to be prepared in Italy, marked with a serial number, issued to Sikhs by the government, and will be accompanied by a “license”.
This type of interference in the Sikhs’ right to wear the kirpan is unprecedented and unacceptable. No government has the right to “issue” a kirpan to Gursikhs and furthermore, any government alteration or interference with the shape or attributes of a kirpan is intolerable. Acceptance of this model will have severe and negative repercussions for Sikhs across the world.
In Canada, as you may be aware, Sikhs have worked towards the accommodation of the kirpan in public spaces such as hospitals, schools, courtrooms and hospitals. While agreements have included limits on size or required that the kirpan be worn underneath the clothes, no attempt to alter or regulate the shape or attributes of the kirpan has ever been accepted by Sikhs. Though the process has taken years, the kirpan is now widely accepted and accommodated in Canada.
The Italian government’s attempt to design and issue kirpans to Sikhs on the pretext that the kirpan is too much like a “weapon” is a legally flawed argument. Workers who have a “good reason” to have tools like knives or blades are permitted to carry them by the authorities, however, the Italian court has ruled that Sikhs have not established a good reason to wear the kirpan. This is a fundamentally flawed and incorrect conclusion that must be legally challenged. Accepting this decision and allowing the Italian government to interfere in the Sikhs’ right to wear the kirpan is the wrong approach and cannot be permitted. The WSO is prepared to assist Italian Sikhs in challenging the restrictions on the kirpan.
We are writing to inform you that Canadian Sikhs reject the Italian proposal to design and distribute the kirpan. Accepting such interference would have long term negative repercussions for Sikhs across the world. We expect the Singh Sahibans and Jathedar of Sri Akal Takht Sahib to strongly and clearly reject this proposal.
With best wishes and regards,
World Sikh Organization of Canada