Sikh soldiers file lawsuit against US Defence Department

INITIAsikhsoldiersThree Sikh soldiers, Specialist Kanwar Singh, Specialist Harpal Singh and Private Arjan Singh Ghotra have filed a lawsuit against the Department of Defence, seeking to serve in the US armed forces without being forced to flaunt their articles of faith such as turbans, unshorn hair and beards. The three want to begin basic combat training with their various units in May.

Specialist Kanwar Singh who enlisted in the Massachusetts Army National Guard, said the men would like the chance, like every other American soldier, to proudly serve. Harpal Singh was recruited by the US Army Reserve for his foreign language skills, and Arjan Singh Ghotra, 17, who enlisted in the Virginia Army National Guard is slated to attend basic training before attending George Mason University this fall.

The lawsuit was filed by the Sikh Coalition, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and law firm McDermott Will & Emery, after the defence department ignored a written demand letter sent on March 23.

The lawsuit follows the March federal court ruling that the army is prohibited from subjecting a decorated Sikh American soldier, Captain Simratpal Singh to discriminatory testing.

Last year as well 27 retired US Generals called on the department to eliminate the ban on observant Sikhs.