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Business News/ Politics / News/  ‘Khalistani’ slur row: BJP's Suvendu Adhikari dares Bengal Police to ‘prove charge in 24 hrs or face consequences’
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‘Khalistani’ slur row: BJP's Suvendu Adhikari dares Bengal Police to ‘prove charge in 24 hrs or face consequences’

Protests erupt as the Sikh community supports an IPS officer who alleged that West Bengal BJP leaders called him a 'Khalistani'.

Suvendu Adhikari (ANI)Premium
Suvendu Adhikari (ANI)

Leader of opposition in the West Bengal assembly and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Suvendu Adhikari on Tuesday challenged the state police to prove their charge that a 'Khalistani' slur was hurled at a Sikh police officer within 24 hours or face consequences. The IPS officer was deputed to prevent Adhikari from visiting the violence-stricken Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas district.

Adhikari, along with another BJP leader Agnimitra Paul, had claimed that IPS officer Jaspreet Singh wasn't fulfilling his duties, but dismissed allegations that anyone from the party called him a 'Khalistani.'

"No one has abused him or used the word 'Khalistani.' He is trying to make an issue," Paul claimed.

Adhikari has also denied the allegations and accused the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) of diverting attention from development in Sandeshkhali, which had been witnessing protests after local women accused absconding TMC leader Shajahan Sheikh and his supporters of "sexually assaulting" them under coercion.

The IPS officer, offended by the alleged comment, had questioned the BJP workers. "Just because I am wearing a turban, you people are calling me a Khalistani? Is this what you have learnt? If a police officer wears a turban and performs his duty honestly, he becomes a Khalistani for you? Shame on you," he had said.

ADG (South Bengal) Supratim Sarkar said that the incident happened when the police force was deployed to enforce Section 144 in Dhamakhali on Tuesday morning. The force was headed by IPS officer Jaspeet Singh, SSP Intelligence Branch. "There are several MLAs including West Bengal Opposition Leader Suvendu Adhikari in Dhamakhali. There was an altercation with the police officer during which Adhikari called the police officer a Khalisthani, which is never befitting of a political leader. We strongly protest against it. We will take legal action against him for this serious comment," ADG Sarkar said.

However, BJP IT cell chief Amit Malviya, on behalf of Adhikari, challenged Sarkar to prove the allegations within 24 hours or face consequences.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Malviya said, "BJP LoP Suvendu Adhikari dares ADG (South Bengal) to prove his charge that a slur was hurled at a Sikh police officer, within 24 hours or face consequences. @WBPolice, Mamata Banerjee's only line of defence, is crumbling. They should now retreat to their barracks."

West Bengal Police condemned slur

The West Bengal Police also took to the microblogging website X, and said, "We, the West Bengal Police fraternity, are outraged to share this video, where one of our own officers was called ‘Khalistani’ by the state's Leader of the Opposition. His ‘fault’: he is both a proud Sikh, and a capable police officer who was trying to enforce the law."

Saying that stern action would be taken, the WB police added that the comment is as much malicious and racial as it is communally inciting. "It is a criminal act. We unequivocally condemn the unprovoked, unacceptable attack on an individual’s religious identity and beliefs aimed to incite people to take to violence and break the law."

Sikhs stage protest near Kolkata BJP office

Up to 200 people belonging to the Sikh community staged a demonstration in front of the BJP office in the city on Wednesday, expressing solidarity with the IPS officer. A protester said, "The farmers from Punjab are described as Khalistanis by some BJP leaders for demanding better support price for their crops. A policeman hailing from Punjab has been similarly labelled by the saffron party for doing his duty as a police officer."

"We are all patriotic Indians. None can question our patriotism, our sacrifice, our love for the country. Why should wearing turbans as part of our religious right make a Sikh tagged as a Khalistani? We demand an apology from the BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Union Home Minister Amit Shah on this issue," an elderly Sikh man said.

Similar protests were staged by members of the Sikh community at Asansol in Paschim Bardhaman district.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee slams BJP

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee condemned the BJP's "divisive politics" and said attempts to undermine the reputation of Sikhs were audacious.

"Today, the BJP's divisive politics has shamelessly overstepped constitutional boundaries. As per BJP every person wearing a TURBAN is a KHALISTANI. I VEHEMENTLY CONDEMN this audacious attempt to undermine the reputation of our SIKH BROTHERS & SISTERS, revered for their SACRIFICES and UNWAVERING DETERMINATION to our nation. We stand firm in protecting Bengal's social harmony and will take stern lawful measures to prevent any attempts to disrupt it," Banerjee said in a post on X.

(With agency inputs)

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Published: 21 Feb 2024, 03:44 PM IST
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