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Kirpan Ban for Sikhs Accused of Assault

Sharon Boase may be reached via email at or via phone at (905) 526-2452.

The Hamilton Spectator, Sep. 28, 2006

Photo: Surmukh Singh

Photo: Tejpaul Singh Kaloe

Three men charged in connection with a violent home invasion last Saturday have been released from custody on sureties of $25,000 each and on the condition they rid their homes of all swords and daggers.

In addition to the standard ban on possessing weapons and explosives, justice of the peace Dan Stevely told the trio yesterday he would reconsider his order releasing them if they were not prepared to steer clear of even the ceremonial versions of the traditional Sikh kirpan, or sword.

'It's more related to tradition than your order, your worship. But my client's wife has a kirpan . . .,' began Mitchell Rosenblatt, who represents two of the accused men.

'I'll make it really simple,' Stevely replied tartly. 'By the time they get home, they (kirpans) had better be missing. They are not to reside in any residence that contains swords or kirpans.'

Wearing a kirpan is an important sign of one's Sikh faith. It is meant to signify courage in defence of right.

Surmukh Singh, 44, of Flamborough, Lakhbir Singh Khela, 35, of Mississauga, and Tejpaul Singh Kaloe, 30, of Dundas, were arrested following the home invasion last Saturday night. Each faces six charges, including assault with a weapon, threatening death and break and enter.

During the incident, a group of men allegedly waved clubs and metre-long swords at Jasbir Singh Saini and several members of his family, including an elderly woman and two young teens. Windows were smashed and walls were sliced through.

All the men charged - as well as the victims - attend or used to attend the Gursikh Sangat Sikh Temple on Old Guelph Road at York Road. Saini is currently a director of the temple.

Temple members say the home invasion may be the latest flashpoint in a long-simmering dispute over temple control.

Lawsuits and affidavits filed in civil court paint a messy picture of a festering family feud, fisticuffs, threats of injury by sword, allegations of theft and banishments from the temple. The allegations have not been proved in court.

Nearly a half-dozen lawsuits allege everything from financial mismanagement of the temple to the violation of religious freedoms by banning certain congregants from the temple.

Kaloe, along with his father, Tejinder Singh Kaloe, were banned from the temple in March 2005 after being accused of using foul language and intimidating behaviour.

Stevely also ordered the three accused to have no contact with Saini or any member of his family. Among bail conditions, the men aren't allowed to attend the temple and can't communicate with each other except through their lawyers or in court.

The men are scheduled to return to court Oct. 27 to set a date for trial.