Army Lets More Soldiers Wear Turbans

It came not long after this story about three other Sikh-American soldiers, Reserve Spc. Harpal Singh, Spc. Kanwar Singh and Pvt. Arjan Singh Ghotra (pictured above), who — along with the Sikh Coalition, the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty and a law firm (McDermott Will & Emory) — were seeking the same rights, while in uniform.

Well they won their case, too, as the branch approved their waiver request on Monday.

This from the Army Times:

They each received nearly identical memos dated April 8 that advise them of the Army’s approval of their requests, with conditions. Like the waiver delivered in March to Capt. Simratpal Singh, the memo offers guidelines for wear of the soldiers’ hair and turbans, states that the exemption applies only during the performance of “nonhazardous duties,” and notes that it periodically will be up for review and could be voided at any time.

In the case of the enlisted soldiers, the first such review will take place after they complete initial military training.

Such reviews, and the threat of immediate cancellation of the waiver, have led the trio’s lawyers to “continue to pursue legal claims on behalf of each of the recently accommodated soldiers to ensure that the Army moves swiftly to establish uniform standards for the service of observant Sikhs and removes discriminatory monitoring and re-evaluation provisions,” according to a Monday news release from the Sikh Coalition.

The initial complaint seeks “nominal damages” and attorney’s fees, and requests the religious accommodations “apply to all Army posts that Plaintiffs will hold in the future, unless the Army makes an individualized showing of a compelling governmental interest that cannot be
satisfied by less restrictive means.”

Neither Ghotra, 17, or Kanawar Singh have “yet to touch a weapon in service.”

The Army hasn’t commented on the news as of publication of this post.

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