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Manchester Airport refused to allow a Sikh woman carrying a four-inch kirpan

Manchester, Jan. 26, 2005
Manchster News

A ROW erupted today after Manchester Airport security officials refused to allow a Sikh passenger on a flight because she was carrying a four-inch dagger.

It comes after the M.E.N. revealed another woman unwittingly smuggled a craft knife on to a flight from Manchester.

In the latest incident, officers in Terminal 2 refused to let the 41-year-old to board an Air France jet to Paris.

The woman, who was on her way to Delhi to see family, told officers she was wearing the ceremonial kirpan knife under her clothing before she walked through a metal detector.

The kirpan must be worn by baptised Sikhs as a religious symbol, but managers insisted she would not be allowed on her flight because it was considered a weapon.

She returned to check-in, where she was told her luggage had been taken off the plane.

"It was very upsetting," said the woman, from Leeds. "I don't understand why security should worry that somebody like me might stab somebody. I paid £540 for that ticket and I can't go.

"They also said they had already taken my bag off the flight, so it was too late.


"The last time I flew, in March, 2001, I was able to give my kirpan to the aircraft crew and they gave it back to me afterwards. But this time, they insisted they could not do this.

"We are supposed to wear it all the time, but I would be willing to hand it to the crew. I would also consider putting it in my luggage."

Panesar Balbinder, of Sikhs In England, was angry and insisted the government had given Sikhs dispensation to give their kirpan to flight crew for the duration of flights.

"It's a religious symbol, not a weapon. Other airports allow the kirpan to be handed into the crew and given back at the end of a flight."

A spokesman for Manchester Airport explained: "Such items are prohibited and they cannot be carried on the person."

Katie Hulme, from Air France, said: "I'm sorry, but there was no time to get her bag off the aircraft and re-load it. It would then have missed its slot."

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: "Knives of all blade lengths are prohibited and passengers are not permitted to take them into restricted zones or onto an aircraft. Such articles may be put in hold baggage that passengers no longer have access to."


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