The West Bengal government's Home Department on Sunday, 11 October, took to Twitter to say that the recent incident in Kolkata wherein the arrest of a Sikh man sparked a row with many accusing cops of removing his turban is being “twisted out of context, being distorted, and being given communal colours”.
The arrest on Thursday had sparked a social media war, with BJP leaders among those accusing West Bengal police of hurting religious sentiments and alleging that the Howrah district police removed his turban.
“One political party is giving communal colour to the subject in narrow partisan interest in a manner that Bengal does not believe in,” the Home Department said on Sunday, without taking any names.
The Home Department on Sunday said that policing was done as per law, adding that “Sikh brothers and sisters live here in West Bengal in perfect peace and harmony”.
No Intention to Hurt Sentiments: Cops
Soon after the row broke out, in a tweet on Friday, West Bengal Police responded with the video, saying that the person was carrying firearms and that the turban had fallen off during a scuffle with one of the officers.
“It is never our intention to hurt the sentiments of any community,” the police said, adding that the man was asked to put his turban back before the arrest as well, attaching a photo of the same.
West Bengal Police respects all religions. The officer specifically asked him to put his Pagri back before the arrest. The attached photo has been clicked right before he was escorted to the Police Station. We remain committed to our duty to uphold law and order in the state(2/2) pic.twitter.com/BnTWztfDGW
— West Bengal Police (@WBPolice) October 9, 2020
News18 identified the man who was arrested by cops during a clash in Howrah on Thursday as 43-year-old Balwinder Singh, the personal security guard of BJP leader Priyanshu Pandey.
Singh was reportedly held by the police for carrying a loaded pistol during the march to Nabanna, the state secretariat.
The report quoted police as saying that the license of the pistol was limited to Rajouri and was illegal to use in Bengal.
BJP Leaders Lash Out at Police
The controversy caused a furore on social media, into which even cricketer Harbhajan Singh stepped in, tagging Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Twitter and asking her to take a look into the matter.
Meanwhile, BJP leaders collectively lashed out at West Bengal police, condemning Singh’s arrest and the West Bengal police’s action.
“By removing the turban of Balwinder Singh, the West Bengal police have insulted the entire Sikh community. It seems like Mughal rule in Bengal. The insult once again proved that except one community, no other community has the right to live in Bengal with dignity," BJP National Secretary, Arvind Menon said in a tweet.
BJP leader Babul Supriyo said that if the Bengal police had indeed done this, they should received exemplary punishment.
Senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya tweeted saying, “It is an act of hurting the religious sentiments of the Sikh."
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Sukhbir Singh Badal condemned the ‘disrespect’ of the youth’s turban, stating that, “the dishonour has infuriated Sikhs across the world.”
SAD member Maninder Singh Sirsa also called it a “brutal attack” and urged Mamata to take action against “the erring police officers ASAP”.
BJP state unit President Dilip Ghosh had said on Thursday that it was a licensed weapon and the person had all valid documents for carrying the firearm. "The police should release him as he is a security person and was carrying a licensed weapon," Ghosh had said during a press conference on Thursday, according to IANS.
Punjab Chief Minister and Congress leader, Amarinder Singh also expressed his shock over the West Bengal police’s ‘humiliating treatment’ of the Sikh youth, the CM’s media advisor tweeted on Friday night.
TMC Denies Allegations
According to PTI, senior TMC leader and minister Firhad Hakim has termed the allegations "baseless,” saying that "law will take its own course".
"We are not like BJP, we respect all religions, caste, creed," he stated.
(With inputs from PTI, IANS and News18.)
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