4,000 support Sikh girl’s legal challenge to Welsh school


London : Nearly 4,000 people have joined online petitions in support of a 14-year-old Sikh girl who has filed a legal challenge after being excluded by her school for wearing a kara.

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Sarika Singh, a pupil at the Aberdare Girls’ School in the Welsh town of Aberdare, has been excluded since Nov 5 and was forced to attend lessons in isolation for two months after the staff at the school first noticed her wearing the kara or bracelet.

Sarika, who is the only Sikh in her school, has refused to remove the kara, saying it should not be treated as jewellery. The school’s uniform policy prohibits any jewellery other than a wristwatch and plain ear studs.

Liberty, the human rights group which has filed the challenge, is expected to argue the school has breached race relations and human rights laws, as well as a 25-year-old Law Lords’ decision which allows Sikh children to wear items representing their faith – including turbans – to school.

The group is asking for the school to amend its uniform policy to comply with Britain’s Race Relations Act, a major provincial newspaper, the Western Mail, reported Saturday.

The school’s governing body must lodge its defence in the High Court by next Friday, before the court starts considering the case mid-January.

Meanwhile, United Sikhs, an international advocacy charity, will also apply to file a third party intervention, the paper said.

The Support Sarika group on social networking site Facebook has 2,366 members, from countries as far afield as Canada, Australia, India and the US.

The site also includes a link to an online petition signed by nearly 1,500 people at supportsarika.co.uk.