The West Bengal government on Sunday hit out at the BJP, saying that a political party was trying to give “communal colour” to an incident from earlier this week in which a Sikh man’s turban came off during a scuffle with the police.
On Saturday, referring to Muslims, state BJP chief Dilip Ghosh had said the police would not have disrespected the man had he been wearing a “round cap”.
The incident in question occurred during the BJP’s march to state secretariat Nabanna on Thursday after the Sikh man was found carrying a firearm. The government was heavily criticised after visuals of the incident went viral on social media. The BJP accused the police of roughing up the man, who was identified as party leader Priyanshu Pandey’s bodyguard Balwinder Singh, and hurting the community’s religious sentiments. Singh is a resident of Punjab and a former Indian Army soldier.
In a series of tweets on Sunday, the state home department said, “Our Sikh brothers and sisters live in West Bengal in perfect peace and harmony, in happiness and tranquility, with respect from all of us for their faith and practices. A recent incident when one isolated individual got caught with one illegally carried firearm amidst agitationists in an agitation that was not authorised is now being twisted out of context, being distorted, and being given communal colours in fractious and partisan interest.”
The department went on to add, “One political party is giving communal colour to the subject in narrow partisan interest in a manner that Bengal does not believe in. Policing was done as per law, but highest respect for the Sikh panth and ways from GOWB is affirmed.”
After Balwinder Singh’s turban came off, the police allowed him to tie it before taking him into a van. However, the police action drew widespread condemnation, with former India cricketer Harbhajan Singh tweeting to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, “Please look into the matter. This just isn’t done.”
In its defence, the police said, “The concerned person was carrying firearms in yesterday’s protest. The pagri had fallen off automatically in the scuffle that ensued, without any attempt to do so by our officer. It is never our intention to hurt the sentiments of any community.”
Reacting to the home department’s tweets, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said the damage had already been done. “This has generated a negative response from people across the country. Everyone is condemning it. Now these tweets will not succeed in rectifying the faults. The damage is already done.”
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