Sikhs working at Indian airports will continue to be able to carry a tiny kirpan with them when entering these high-security facilities. The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) has updated an aviation security (AvSec) circular that permits Sikh passengers on domestic flights inside India to carry a kirpan that is up to 9 inches long (22.86 cm) and has a blade that is no more than 6 inches long (15.24 cm). It excluded "workers" from the scope of this order due to an oversight.
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) brought the matter to the attention of the aviation ministry, which had prohibited amritdhari Sikh employees from wearing their kirpan while working at Indian airports. It had requested that the March 4, 2022, order be revoked.
"We got representations from Sikh community about the same and accordingly have addressed that issue by issuing a corrigendum order on March 12. There's nothing new in the order. It simply seeks to remove the confusion caused by a recently amended circular." said a BCAS official.
Accordingly, BCAS DC Jaideep Prasad's March 12 order states, "In place of (the confusion-causing para), following shall be substituted- 'Kirpan may be carried by a Sikh passenger, on his person, provided the length of its blade does not exceed 15.24 cms (6 inches); and the total length of a Kirpan does not exceed 22.86 cms (9 inches). It is allowed while traveling by air on Indian aircraft within India.
The exemption to the handling of restricted articles has been issued by the order, "…for the purpose of safety of passengers, crew, aircraft, ground personnel and the general public in all matters related to safeguarding against acts of unlawful interference with civil aviation, directs the following (March 12 amendment)."
BCAS has been amending its orders in recent days to make doing business easier by simplifying the language to eliminate any confusion among stakeholders.