Furore After Sikh Man With Gun Shoved, Turban Pulled At BJP Bengal March

BJP supporters clashed with the police at a protest in Bengal on Thursday.

Kolkata:

Viral visuals of the police wrestling a Sikh man to the ground during the BJP’s mega protest in Kolkata’s twin city Howrah on Thursday during a protest march have set off a major controversy with the party accusing the police of hurting religious sentiments by pulling off the turban of 43-year-old Balwinder Singh, a resident of Bhatinda. Responding the controversy hours after it erupted, the West Bengal Police said it never intended to hurt the sentiments of any community. There was a struggle to seize a pistol in Mr Singh’s possession and the turban, police said, fell off “automatically”.

The controversy gathered so much momentum on social media today, 24 hours after the incident, with multiple BJP leaders tweeting about it, even cricketer Harbhajan Singh tweeted, tagging Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, to say, “Please look into the matter. This just isn’t done”.

Shiromani Akali Dal, too, demanded that Mamata Banerjee take action against the policemen responsible for the attack on Mr Singh.

A 9 mm pistol was seized from Mr Singh who provided a gun licence after his arrest that identified him as a former soldier with Rashtriya Rifles in Rajouri in Jammu and Kashimir. BJP leader Dilip Ghosh, when asked about it yesterday, had said Mr Singh was the security of a BJP leader.

In the night tweet, the West Bengal Police defended its actions and shared a photo saying they ensured Mr Singh had his turban back on before being arrested.

Videos of his clash with the police went viral on Friday, a day after the incident took place, which show Mr Singh’s turban falling off as the police wrestle him to the ground.

Hundreds of BJP protesters clashed with the police on their way to the Bengal government secretariat “Nabanna” on Friday, throwing to the winds safety measures for COVID-19, including social distancing. Visuals from the spot showed police dressed in riot gear trying to disperse the crowd with tear gas and water cannons as stones were thrown from the other side.

The BJP held the “Nabanna Chalo” (Let’s go to Nabanna) protest defying the government’s orders banning large gatherings. New BJP youth wing chief Tejasvi Surya flew down to the city to take part in the protest, which was seen as the party’s show of strength in the state.

Post-noon, the BJP had held four marches all of which were making their way towards the state secretariat. One of the biggest from Howrah Maidan was led by Bankura MP Saumitra Khan and BJP’s Yuva Morcha Tejasvi Surya who had flown in for the protest.

The protesters were stopped midway, prompting angry BJP supporters to attack the police with stones. When they tried to pull down the barricades, the police responded with teargas shells.

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