Karamjit Kaur, wife of the arrested Sikh man Balwinder Singh and son Harshveer Singh, warned of protests on Saturday outside the West Bengal government’s secretariat building Nabanna for his release. Balwinder Singh was arrested on October 8 in Howrah for carrying a pistol in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) agitation.
The incident came to the spotlight after Balwinder Singh’s turban was removed while he was battling with the police. When videos of the incident went viral, the state police falsely accused him of carrying firearms in the protest. The police say the license they claimed was not valid in West Bengal.
Howrah district police made a tweet while defending themselves, “As per the national database of arms licences, ministry of home affairs, govt. of India; the arms licence of Sh Balwindar Singh is valid only in Rajouri distt of J&K. He was arrested for being part of an unlawful assembly with a weapon. Please do not get carried away by fabricated social media posts. A thorough investigation is going on to unearth the truth,”
“I want to meet chief minister Mamata Banerjee. I have appealed several times but there has been no response. My son and I will start a dharna outside her office at 11 am on Saturday. I appeal to all Sikh Sangats (associations or groups) to stand by their sister. I want to see my husband released,” Kaur said in Punjabi in a video message on Thursday evening.
State BJP president Dilip Ghosh has said that Singh works for a private security agency and he was deployed to provide security to one of the BJP’s youth wing leaders. “Even my security personnel carried guns on that day,” Ghosh, who is a Lok Sabha member from Midnapore, said on Wednesday.
Former Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh, Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal, Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh who are among the prominent members of the Sikh community who condemned the alleged defining incident.
Seeing the seriousness of the matter, the West Bengal Police said Singh’s turban was not pulled off intentionally. “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 (visible in the video attached). It is never our intention to hurt the sentiments of any community,” The West Bengal Police tweeted around 10 pm last Friday, attaching a video of the incident.
“West Bengal Police respects all religions. The officer specifically asked him to put his Pagri back before the arrest. The attached photo has been clicked right before he was escorted to the Police station. We remain committed to our duty to uphold law and order in the state,” said a second tweet.
Balwinder Singh’s wife and son met governor Jagdeep Dhankhar at the Raj Bhawan on Wednesday and sought his help. Dhankhar later said in a tweet that Singh is a victim of human rights violation.