Members of Sikh community stage protest in Kolkata, accuse cops of pulling man's turban during BJP rally

The police, however, said the Sikh man was carrying a firearm and that his headgear 'had fallen off automatically during the scuffle'

Press Trust of India October 10, 2020 16:21:59 IST
Members of Sikh community stage protest in Kolkata, accuse cops of pulling man's turban during BJP rally

Visuals of the police wrestling a 43-year-old Sikh man to the ground during the BJP's mega protest in Howrah on Thursday have set off a major controversy with the party accusing the police of hurting religious sentiments. Twitter/@mssirsa

Kolkata: Around 50 members of the Sikh community staged protest rally in the city condemning the alleged assault of a Sikh man and the pulling of his turban by police during a BJP march to the state secretariat at Howrah in West Bengal.

The rallyists shouted slogans in Bengali on Friday night demanding an explanation from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee about the 8 October incident involving a 43-year-old Sikh man Balwinder Singh from whom a loaded pistol was recovered by police during the BJP Yuva Morcha rally to the state secretariat on 8 October.

"CM Mamata Banerjee please explain why the turban of a Sikh has been pulled by your police. You should explain or leave the chair," the rallyists chanted on Central Avenue near Esplanade Crossing.

The rallyists also carried posters with the same demands written on it.

"We are aggrieved over the way a member of our community has been treated by the lawmakers. We demand punishment of the cops who committed such act," Surinder Singh, one of the protesters, said, adding that aggrieved members of the community in city had assembled to voice their protest and that they don't belong to any political party.

Controversy erupted on Friday over the alleged assault of the Sikh man and pulling his turban during the Nabanna rally in Howrah, but the police said the person was carrying a firearm and that his turban "had fallen off automatically in the scuffle that ensued".

The BJP accused the Trinamool Congress government of hurting the sentiments of Sikhs.

The incident drew wide social media attraction after cricketer Harbhajan Singh posted on Twitter, tagging Banerjee, which read: "Please look into the matter. This just isn't done."

As visuals of the incident went viral, the West Bengal Police tweeted on Friday, "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."

Singh, a resident of Bhatinda, is a former Indian Army soldier and currently works as a private security officer hired by a BJP leader, the party leadership claimed.

"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," the police said in another tweet, with a photo of Singh in turban.

Parts of Kolkata and adjoining Howrah resembled a battle zone on Thursday as BJP workers and supporters clashed with police, hurling stones and blocking roads with burning tyres, to protest a string of killings of saffron party workers.

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