Reporting Ian Schwartz
DAVIS (CBS13) — A Sikh UC Davis student wasn’t allowed on an Amtrak bus because of the ceremonial knife he was wearing.
Junior Harsimran Singh says he’s traveled for the last two years with the knife in full view and hadn’t had any issues until Saturday morning.
“They don’t say anything. They always wish me safe travels, and they continue on with their business they didn’t see me as a potential threat,” Singh said.
The knife is called a kirpan. The sheathed blade is a sacred and religious item to the Sikh faith.
Amtrak driver Al Smithee, however, was concerned at the presence of a weapon on the bus.
“I’m doing 70 miles an hour down the freeway, and he slits my throat, and I crash and wreck, and kill five other people or on coming traffic. You don’t know,” he said.
Singh says he keeps the blade sheathed 24 hours a day as something that protects him from more than physical dangers.
“[It’s about] protecting yourself from evils, ideologies that would otherwise corrupt you,” he said.
Symbolic or not, Smithee saw it and called police. They agreed that Singh could get on board if he stowed the blade. He declined the offer and scrapped the trip to see his family.
“For me, my faith is stronger to me that I wouldn’t compromise it just for the happiness of somebody else,” Singh said.
Smithee said the issues to him wasn’t about religion, it was about rider safety.
“I don’t care who it was. If they have a knife sheath hanging down, it’s a weapon,” he said.