A Sikh father was placed in handcuffs at a north Wales funfair for carrying a religious blade in public, despite it being legally allowed. Prabjot Singh, an Amritdhari Sikh, travelled to north Wales with his family and a group of friends from Birmingham on July 30 to visit the Tir Prince Fun Park in Towyn, Conwy.While Prabjot Singh was on one of the rides with his young son a member of staff at the park noticed the six-inch kirpan around his waist.
What is a Kirpan?
A kirpan is a religious sword or dagger which Amritdhari Sikhs must carry at all times. They are legally allowed to do so in the UK for religious reasons under the Offensive Weapons Bill.
The word “kirpan” comes from two Punjabi words: ‘Kirpa’ means an act of kindness or a favor, and ‘Aan’ means honor and self- respect.
Arminder Singh, a family friend who witnessed the incident explained that the staff member told Prabjot he must remove the kirpan or leave the park.Arminder explained his friend didn’t speak much English and tried to make him aware that wearing a kirpan is legally allowed in this country.He said: “I was at the front of the line waiting to get on the ride when I heard him say you have to go out.“I shouted asking ‘what is the matter’ and the staff member said this man is wearing a knife. He used the word knife. And said it's not allowed.“I explained that it's legal under UK law and they said they can’t allow it in case anyone gets injured.“When the ride started he reported that he had a knife to police, which they reacted to and four or five cars arrived before the ride had even finished.”Once Arminder got off the ride, he saw that his friend had been handcuffed.
"It was very embarrassing", he said.“Everyone was looking at us like we were terrorists. My friends wife was in tears, everyone got very nervous."Due to the language barrier, Arminder approached officers to speak with them to explain the situation.Once the officers understood that the religious sword was a kirpan, they released Prabjot and handed him a receipt for his detention.Despite being released by police, Arminder claimed the owner of Tir Prince escorted the group out of the park.The owner apologised and refunded them for their visit shortly after but would not allow them to enter the park with the kirpan - despite it being legally allowed.When asked about the incident on Twitter chief constable Carl Foulkes said: “I have been personally briefed on this incident as I recognise both the religious and cultural sensitivity.“We are reaching out to the gentlemen affected to discuss the circumstances with him and we will understand and take on board learning for the force”
A spokesperson for North Wales Police also said: “Officers were called to report of a man in possession of two knives at a busy amusement park in Towyn last Friday.“When questioned, the man explained the circumstances of him carrying a kirpan as part of his Sikh faith. The officers were aware of the legal exemption for kirpans and having obtained the explanation they provided him with an official record of the stop search.“North Wales Police works with all sections of our diverse communities across the region, and constantly seeks to engage over culturally sensitive issues which include consultation with colleagues from the Sikh Police Association, and the Black and Asian Police Association.“Our officers receive extensive training on these issues, but we will always look to maximise any learning opportunities from each and every incident. The force is in the process of trying to contact the gentleman concerned, to address any ongoing concerns he may have.”Tir Prince Fun Park have been approached for a comment.