According to City Limits, Navdeep Singh, a 28 year-old Sikh who is currently in New York's Fishkill Correctional Facility, is suing the State Department of Correctional Services for deprivations to his right to practice his faith in prison. In particular:
Navdeep... said prison officials dumped his underwear in the garbage when he arrived, despite his protestations that it was a sacred item. Long underwear called kacchera is worn by devout Sikhs to reinforce their vow of abstinence. He said he has also been denied access to religious items Sikhs are expected to carry with them at all times, including a thin steel bracelet symbolizing bondage to truth, a wooden comb and a Sikh pendant.
“One of the correction officers told me that if I wanted my religious items, I should go back to my country and ride camels,” said Navdeep....
[To protest, Navdeep engaged in a hunger strike.] A few days after his hunger strike began, the kacchera was returned to him and he is now permitted to wear the bracelet during meal times. But he hasn’t seen the pendant for six months.
[A spokesperson for the prison said:] “We recognize the importance of spiritual and religious practices and have worked hard to provide these services to inmates at our facilities throughout the state,” he says. “However, we must ensure that any program or service provided is done so in a manner that does not undermine safety or security."
[The] United Sikhs finds the security argument baffling. “They haven’t explained how an underwear, a comb or a bangle can be a security concern....
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