Sikh Priest Arrested for Carrying Kirpan

September 17, 1999

Source: The Plain Dealer

On September 17, 1999, The Plain Dealer reported that Gurbachan Singh Bhatia, a Sikh priest from Ohio, was charged with carrying a concealed weapon after a minor traffic incident. The 69-year-old Bhatia, the first Sikh priest in Northern Ohio, was carrying a kirpan, or small knife, which is a Sikh religious symbol that shows one's willingness to defend one's faith. In previous court cases, the 1st District Ohio Court of Appeals overturned a Cincinnati Municipal Court conviction of a Sikh man for carrying a concealed weapon in December 1996. Judge Mark Painter, who wrote that decision, stated: 'To be a Sikh is to wear a kirpan - it is that simple. It is a religious symbol and in no way a weapon." Bhatia is scheduled to appear in Court on October 4th.