The arrest of a Sikh man for carrying a gun during BJP’s protest rally in Kolkata has sparked outrage after the saffron brigade accused Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of hurting religious sentiments after the Howrah district police allegedly removed his ‘turban’.
The man identified as Balwinder Singh, 46, is a personal security guard of BJP leader Priyanshu Pandey and is reportedly known to Barrackpore MP Arjun Singh, according to the police. Both Balwinder and Priyanshu Pandey were held for investigation.
BJP National Secretary, Arvind Menon condemned the security personnel’s arrest. “By removing the turban of Balwinder Singh, the West Bengal police have insulted the entire Sikh community. It seems like Mughal rule in Bengal. The insult once again proved that except one community, no other community has the right to live in Bengal with dignity,” he said in a tweet.
Party leader Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga said the removal of the man’s turban by the police was a reminder of the 1984 Sikh riots. “The way a Sikh man’s turban was removed by Bengal police reminds me of 1984 genocide. It is unfortunate that the Bengal police insulted the Sikh community who gave maximum lives during the freedom struggle. I believe, after this incident, the Mamata government should not be in power,” he said in a tweet.
Senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya, tweeted, “It is an act of hurting the religious sentiments of the Sikh.” Hinting at a minority community, Vijayvargiya in another tweet said, “Do they have the guts to remove their skull caps. It is highly objectionable to remove Sikh man’s sacred turban.”
Delhi BJP leader Impreet Singh Bakshi also condemned the act and demanded stern action against the police.
A resident of Bhatinda, Balwinder Singh was held by the police for carrying a loaded pistol during the march called by Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) to Nabanna, the state secretariat on Thursday.
BJP state president Dilip Ghosh also slammed the arrest saying that the security guard of the party leader was carrying a licensed gun and that the protests were “peaceful”. “Our workers did not hurl bombs. We were holding a peaceful protest. The police used force on us without any provocation,” he was quoted as saying.
However, police officials noted that it was unusual for the man to carry arms during a protest meeting. “Why would someone attend a protest meeting carrying his gun? This is the big question and we are investigating it. We felt that it was very unusual for a protester to carry arms. It was a loaded pistol (0.32 bore) with a range of 18.27m,” a senior Howrah police officer said.
Police said that the license of the pistol recovered was issued in 2009 by the district magistrate of Rajouri district in Jammu and Kashmir. However, Singh’s licence permit is limited to Rajouri and was illegal to use in Bengal.
“The gun licence was renewed and it was valid through 2021. But it was limited to Rajouri and not in Bengal. We found it very alarming and adequate action will be taken,” the police officer said.