A video from Bhartiya Janata Party’s youth wing protests in Kolkata where a Sikh man is being pushed, shoved, and his turban pulled by the police has gone viral on social media. This sparked outrage from various groups, including the BJP, who criticised the force for hurting religious sentiments.
The BJYM march in Kolkata was led by BJP MP and newly-appointed president of the youth wing Tejasvi Surya. They were protesting in a rally to Nabanna, the state secretariat, against alleged corruption and unemployment in West Bengal.
The Sikh man in the video was identified as Balvinder Singh, who was the personal security guard of the BJP leader Priyanshu Pandey. The police held him during the protest march.
According to a report by the Hindustan Times, Singh was carrying a 9mm pistol when the police grabbed him, however, he showed them the license of the gun that was valid untill January next year.
BJP’s national secretary Arvind Menon condemned Singh’s arrest and said that the West Bengal police had hurt religious sentiments of the people. “Today it seems that Mughal rule has been established again in Bengal. Is there no respect for the religious sentiments of any other community except a particular one in Bengal?” Memon tweeted.
सरदार बलविंदर सिंह जी की पगड़ी खींच कर बंगाल पुलिस ने देश के सभी सिखों का अपमान किया है, आज ऐसा प्रतीत होता है कि बंगाल में पुनः मुग़लों का शासन स्थापित हो गया है।
क्या बंगाल में एक समुदाय विशेष को छोड़ कर बाकी किसी की भी धार्मिक भावनाओं का सम्मान नही रहा? pic.twitter.com/uYjCl7G6ze
— Arvind Menon (@MenonArvindBJP) October 9, 2020
Former Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh also expressed anger over the incident of manhandling Singh, who hailed for Punjab’s Bathinda. “Please have a look into this matter @MamataOfficial. This isn’t done,” the cricketer wrote tagging Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in his tweet.
Plz have a look into this matter @MamataOfficial this isn’t done 😡😡 https://t.co/mKrbQhn1qy
— Harbhajan Turbanator (@harbhajan_singh) October 9, 2020
The protests turned violent with BJP supporters clashing with police in parts of Kolkata and Howrah. Tyres were burnt, stones hurled while riot police tried to disperse the crowd using tear gas and water cannons.
The police alleged that BJP supporters hurled crude bombs at the police, a claim that was refuted by the party. Meanwhile, BJP accused the state’s police of using chemical-laced water to control the crowd.
Several were detained and a case was registered against BJP leaders, including national secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, national vice president Mukul Roy, members of Parliament, Locket Chatterjee, Arjun Singh, and Rakesh Singh for “unlawful assembly” and “law violation”.