10 Oct 2020: Sikh man's turban pulled during BJP rally, Bengal police clarifies
With even star cricketer Harbhajan Singh asking Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to take action, the state police posted tweets claiming the "turban fell" during the melee.
The cops respect all religions, police said.
Background: 'Nabanna Chalo' rally took violent turns; Bengal police, BJP clashed
The incident happened on Thursday, during BJP's massive Nabanna Chalo rally. BJP, which was protesting against the ill governance of Banerjee, met the brutality of the police in the twin cities of Kolkata and Howrah.
Numerous sites in the cities resembled war zones, with police using force on protesters, and BJP members breaking barricades, hurling stones, and setting tires on fire.
What happened: Sikh man worked as security guard of BJP leader
Amid the clashes, the treatment meted on Balwinder Singh, a 43-year-old man hailing from Bhatinda in Punjab, triggered a furor after viral visuals showed Bengal police pulling him by his loose hair.
Singh is a private security guard of BJP leader Priyanshu Pandey and was an ex-soldier of the Rashtriya Rifles in Rajouri, Jammu and Kashmir.
He was arrested for flaring tensions.
Reactions: Vijayvargiya, Supriyo, Bagga tweeted pictures, slammed Banerjee's governance
A number of BJP leaders, from Kailash Vijayvargiya to Babul Supriyo, tweeted pictures from the assault.
"The humiliation of such brave people is sad in Mamta Raj. Such policemen should be punished!," tweeted Vijayvargiya. Supriyo wrote, "I am shocked to see this picture !!"
Tajinder Pal Bagga said the incident reminded him of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and said Banerjee doesn't deserve CM post.
Fact: She insulted the Sikh community: Bagga
Details: Badals, Harbhajan Singh asked Banerjee to take strict action
Others who fumed were SAD's Manjinder Singh Sirsa, who wanted the cops to be booked under IPC Section 295A (acts intended to outrage religious).
SAD boss Sukhbir Singh Badal and wife Harsimrat also joined the chorus. "Turban is the essence of Sikhs' identity. Any disrespect towards it hurts us emotionally & won't be tolerated, (sic)" tweeted Harsimrat.
An angry Harbhajan wrote, "This isn't done."
Fact: A comment also came in from Congress' Captain Amarinder Singh
"Not done, says Punjab CM@capt_amarinder, expressing shock at humiliating treatment of a Sikh youth by @WBPolice, who reportedly pulled off his turban during the arrest, (sic)" tweeted Raveen Thukral, media advisor to Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.
Statement: The turban fell off "automatically," claimed Bengal Police
Late last night, Bengal police said Balwinder was carrying firearms with him.
"The Pagri had fallen off automatically in the scuffle that ensued, without any attempt to do so by our officer (visible in the video attached). It is never our intention to hurt the sentiments of any community," one of the two tweets read.
"West Bengal Police respects all religions," added another tweet.
Fact: "He was asked to put turban back before arrest"
"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," said the police.
Fact: "Committed to protecting law and order"
Statement: Trinamool stood by the police, said man was carrying pistol
Reports said a 9 mm pistol was seized from Balwinder. BJP Bengal President Dilip Ghosh said he had the due license to carry it.
Defending the action, Trinamool's Firhad Hakim, said, "We have never seen bombs and guns being used in political rallies. If you carry a pistol in a rally, what do you expect?"
Balwinder will remain in police custody till Monday.