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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 November 2007, 10:14 GMT
Sikh pupil excluded over bangle
Sarika Singh
Sarika Singh refuses to remove her Kara, a religious symbol
A 14-year-old girl has been excluded from a school in south Wales for wearing a Sikh bangle, or Kara.

Sarika Singh refused to take off the religious symbol because it is "a constant reminder to do good".

Aberdare Girls School said it has a clear code of conduct and it had temporarily excluded a pupil for refusing to accept a governors' ruling.

The Sikh Federation UK said that the bangle was an "article of faith" and Sikhs had no choice but to wear it.

Sarika's mother Sinita Singh said she also has the support of several local politicians and was taking legal advice.

She said the teenager would remove the bangle for gym classes, or wood and metalwork, for safety reasons.

Mrs Singh said: "It's not jewellery, it's part of our faith and symbol of our belief."

She said they had a meeting with the school and argued the case with the board of governors, but they refused to allow her to wear it.

Sarika Singh and her Kara
The Kara is one of the the five K's of the Sikh religion

"We feel very strongly that Sarika has a right to manifest her religion - she's not asking for anything big and flashy, she's not making a big fuss, she just wants a reminder of her religion."

On Monday Sarika was excluded for a day and on Tuesday her mother said she was told she had been excluded for a fixed period.

Sarika said of wearing the bangle: "It's very important to me, it constantly reminds me to do good and not to do bad, especially with my hands."

Her mother said the Sikh Federation had supported them and she would do "whatever it takes".

Children are at school for education and education only. But what is wrong with wearing a bangle?
Kayleigh Findlay

The school has confirmed that "a pupil has been temporarily excluded for refusing to accept the decision of the governing body".

The governors rejected the girl's request to wear the bangle after a "significant period of research" examining the uniform policy and human rights legislation in detail.

Jane Rosser, headteacher, said: "We have a strict and clear code of conduct that has been in place for many years.

"A copy of the code of conduct is given to all girls before they are even a pupil at the school and is also issued at the start of every new term in September.

"We use this established code of conduct to ensure equality between all pupils.

"The code clearly states the only two forms of jewellery that girls are allowed to wear in school is a wrist watch and one pair of plain metal stud earrings."

Jagtar Singh, secretary of Sikh Federation UK claimed the school was breaching the 1976 Race Relations Act in its treatment of Sarika.

"The department for education and schools in England have said that if a headteacher or governing body were to deny a Sikh child one of their articles of faith such as the bangle then they would be breaking the law," he said.

"If you are a practising Sikh, you have no choice, you have to have the kara. It is the one symbol that virtually every single Sikh wears."

The Kara is one of the the five K's of the Sikh religion

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