Sikhs challenge US army's ban on
Military service is in Capt. Kamaljit Singh Kalsi's blood.
and grandfather were part of India's
His great-grandfather served in the British Indian army. So when US
army recruiters talked to him during his first year of medical
school, he readily signed up....
Sikhs fought their own battle, Muslims want others to
A campaign by Sikhs in America has resulted in the US Army accepting
another Sikh recruit for active duty with his religious identity
intact. It will be for the first time in 23 years that Sikhs will
serve in the US Army with their turbans and unshorn hair.
Captain Tejdeep Singh Rattan, a dentist, and Captain Kamaljit Singh
Kalsi, a doctor, were asked by the army to remove their turbans and
cut hair before they could be allowed to join active duty earlier
this year. The two Sikhs had just completed an army programme that
paid for their medical education in return for military service.
of them had refused to remove their turbans and shave their hair,
leading to protests and petitions by the community.
After a signature and lobbying campaign launched by Sikh
organizations, including the Sikh Coalition, on Vaisakhi day, the US
Army first announced in October to accept Captain Kalsi back with
it has also decided to accept Captain Rattan.
army had banned “conspicuous” religious articles of faith for its
members in 1981. However, some Sikhs who had joined before that date
were allowed to practice their religious identity.
the authorities have made only one-time exception for the two Sikh
officers, without announcing any change in its overall recruitment
policy. It is, however, willing to review its general policy of
excluding Sikhs from future service.
individual accommodations for Captain Tejdeep Singh and Captain
Kamaljeet Singh have significant implications for Sikh employees,”
said Sikh Coalition in a statement Friday.
“Ending discrimination in the US Army sends a message to all other
employers, both private and public, that discrimination against
Sikhs who maintain their articles of faith is not acceptable,” it
Thousands of Sikhs had sent petitions to the army to take the two
recruits back with their religious identity.