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Sikh Family Claims Harassment By Sheriff's Deputies

A Sikh family in Houston, backed by a national organization, is crying foul over how they were treated by deputies of the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

Kawaljeet Kaur tells Hair Balls that her family phoned 911 after discovering their home was burglarized November 26; things went downhill quickly from there.

Here's how it's described in a press relase from the Sikh Coalition (A "kirpan" is a ceremonial dagger:)

Officers ordered Ms. Kawaljeet Kaur to hand over her kirpan -- a religious article mandated by the Sikh faith -- which she wore over her shoulder. Ms. Kaur offered to leave the room if her kirpan made the officers uncomfortable, but to no avail.

Instead, she, along with her brother, mother and cousin, were handcuffed and led into the street. Officers verbally abused them as they were searched. An officer applied pressure to Ms. Kaur's back as she sat on the ground. One officer asked the family whether they had "heard about the bombings in Bombay" while another told them that he "knew about Muslims."

Hours later, the entire family was released without being arrested or charged.

Kaur says a supervisor called the family later that night to "semi-apologize" by saying the officers involved were young.

"Regardless of how young they are, they should not be on the street without proper training," she says. "These are people you go to for help and they start treating you like a criminal. We asked for help and what we got was hatred out of them because I looked different."

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Lt. John Legg of the Sheriff's Office tells Hair Balls the department is aware of the incident.

"It is under investigation, and we have nothing to add at this time," he says.

Neha Singh, western regional director of the Sikh Coalition, tells Hair Balls her group wants the officers fired, and a formal apology issued to the family.

-- Richard Connelly

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