A California college student says he’s shocked that he was denied an Amtrak bus ride after he refused to remove his sacred Sikh dagger.
The 20-year-old Harsimram Singh, a University of California Davis student, told KCRA-TV the bus driver noticed his Kirpan, a ceremonial knife that baptized Sikhs carry in a metal sheath, and called police.
Officers told Singh he wouldn’t be able to ride unless he stowed the dagger in a secure luggage compartment, but he refused, saying that his faith requires him to wear the Kirpan as a reminder to protect against five cardinal vices: anger, lust, greed, ego and earthly attachment.
“Our faith is core to our beliefs and everyday living,” Singh said. “To compromise that on behalf of someone else is not acceptable.”
An Amtrak official said knives or any other weapons must be stored in checked luggage.
The Transportation Safety Agency considers Kirpans a knife or sword, which cannot be carried on board airplanes, although they can be transported in checked luggage.
Singh said he’s flown before and followed current TSA restrictions, but said he’s never had a problem riding buses or trains with his Kirpan in plain view.
“I was like, dumbfounded,” Singh said. “I’ve been riding Amtrak for two years and I’ve never had a situation like this.”
Singh said he hoped the publicity would cause Amtrak to create an exception for Sikhs traveling with their Kirpans, but he’ll avoid trains and buses in favor of private cars next time he travels to Fresno to visit family members.
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