Canadian Sikh boy taken to court on kirpan assault charge

February 10th, 2009 - 12:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Feb 10 (IANS) A 13-year-old Sikh boy, who is accused of “assault” on his two classmates with his kirpan last September, has appeared in a Montreal court to face charges.

The teen had allegedly taken out his kirpan and long hairpin during arguments with two white classmates during lunch hour outside their school in the town of LaSalle near Montreal last Sep 11.

The two boys reported the matter to their principal who called in police and reported the matter to the district school board.

The prosecution said Monday it was a clear-cut case of assault by the Sikh teen as he threatened two classmates with his kirpan and a long hairpin.

But defence lawyer Julius Grey, who won the landmark kirpan case for Sikhs in 2006 in the Canadian supreme court, called the allegations “a fabrication”.

Incidentally, it was the same school board which lost the 2006 kirpan case - known as the Gurbaz Singh Multani case.

Grey said the two teenagers concocted the story when one of their best friends became friendly with the Sikh teen.

When they failed to stop this new friendship, they concocted the assault story to teach the Sikh teen a lesson, Grey said.

But prosecution lawyer Sylvie Lemieux said it was a “clear-cut” assault by the Sikh teen.

“The only question that needs to be answered is whether the Crown (prosecution) proved the case beyond a reasonable doubt,” she argued.

But the Sikh teen pleaded that his religion forbade him from unsheathing his kirpan which he started wearing after being baptised only days before the alleged incident.

Denying taking out his kirpan, he told the court that the only time he unsheathed it was when police and school officials forced him to do so after the alleged incident.

“It was the same school board which lost the landmark kirpan case to Sikhs in 2006. Now they want to get back at the Sikhs through this fabricated case,” Montreal Sikh leader Manjit Singh told IANS.

He said: “I know the boy and his father Kanwaljit Singh. They are a gentle family from New Delhi. All the 10-odd years they have been in Canada, they have been well respected.”

The Sikh leader was hopeful that their lawyer Julius Grey, who is rated among the top four to five constitutional lawyers, will “again win us victory in this kirpan case also”.

After the 2006 kirpan case victory, Grey went to India where he was feted by the Punjab government, the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (DSGPC) and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC).

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