KOLKATA: The controversy over
police allegedly assaulting a Sikh man and pulling his turban during a BJP rally in Howrah two days back refused to die, with members of Sikh community staging protest against the incident on Saturday and the opposition BJP accusing the
government of hurting their religious sentiments.
The Trinamool Congress trashed the allegations as "baseless" and "an attempt to communalise the matter".
The opposition Congress slammed the BJP for "shedding crocodile tears" for the Sikh community.
It also criticised the state police for not being patient and trained enough to tackle such demonstrations.
A controversy erupted on Thursday over the police allegedly assaulting a Sikh and pulling his turban during a BJP rally in Howrah.
The police argued the man was carrying a firearm and that his headgear "had fallen off automatically in the scuffle that ensued".
The BJP, whose protest march to the state secretariat
on October 8 witnessed clashes with police, accused the Trinamool Congress government of hurting the sentiments of Sikhs.
The man was identified as 43-year-old Balwinder Singh, a resident of Bhatinda in
Singh, a former soldier of the Indian Army, currently works as a private security officer hired by a BJP leader, the party leadership claimed.
According to the police, a loaded pistol was recovered from him. The licence of the gun is valid till January next year.
Members of the Sikh community took out a protest rally in the city condemning the incident.
The protestors shouted slogans in Bengali on Friday night demanding an explanation from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee about the October 8 incident.
"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 opposition BJP came down heavily on the TMC government over the issue.
"By pulling the turban of Balwinder Singh Ji, Bengal police and the TMC has insulted all the Sikhs of the country. Is there no respect for the religious sentiments of anyone except a particular community in Bengal?
"We condemn this attack on Sikh community," BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said.
The TMC on its part, dubbed the allegations as "baseless" and accused the BJP of "trying to communalise the issue".
"If someone has done wrong, the law will take its course. What has it to do with his religion? The BJP is trying to communalise the issue to divert attention," senior BJP leader and state minister Firhad Hakim said.
Leader of the Congress party in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, said it is hard to believe that police deliberately insulted Singh and said, "the land of Bengal always has respected Sikh community".
"The BJP is trying to communalise the issue. This is the same land where Sikhs have never been attacked. I don't think that the attack was deliberate. But, at the same time, I feel the West Bengal police personnel are not properly trained to tackle such demonstrations.
"And regarding a loaded pistol being recovered, the TMC and its leaders who have a huge cache of arms should be the last person to talk about it," Chowdhury, who is also
president, told PTI.
As visuals of the incident went viral triggering a political row, the West Bengal police tweeted 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."
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday expressed shock at the "humiliating treatment" meted out to a Sikh and urged his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee to take strict action "against the concerned cop for hurting the Sikh religious sentiments".