Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Monday said when lakhs of Sikhs in Punjab are facing an uncertain future because of farm laws passed by the BJP-led central government, while the saffron party is crying foul over an alleged incident of pulling off of the turban of a Sikh by the police during a protest rally.
Mr Chowdhury said that the Congress has a lot of complaints against the police in West Bengal, but he does not believe that the force indulges in communalism or dividing people on the basis of caste and creed.
The BJP has alleged that the police have shown disrespect to the Sikh community by allegedly pulling off the turban of Balwinder Singh, a private security officer of a party leader, while arresting him for carrying a firearm during a protest march to the state secretariat on October 8.
The state government has said that his turban came off during a fight with the police.
Mr Chowdhury, also the state Congress president, told reporters that the police have explained the reason for arresting Singh, and questioned why he was carrying a firearm in a rally.
Holding that the Sikhs and Bengalis have lived in harmony in West Bengal for ages, he said that "the BJP will not be able to draw them into communal politics".
Mr Chowdhury said that there may have been attacks on the Sikhs in other parts of the country, but there has never been an incident of atrocity on them in this state.
"Lakhs of Sikh people are protesting against the Narendra Modi government's farm laws since they fear that these will throw their lives into an uncertain future. If the BJP really has any feeling for the sentiment of the Sikhs, its leaders in Bengal should speak out against the farm laws," he said.
Three contentious farm laws have triggered protests by farmers especially in Punjab and Haryana.
He said that at least 40 crore jobs are needed in the country now and that the people are going through an unprecedented phase of poverty and hardship amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The buying capacity of people in the country has reduced drastically as they do not have money in their hands.
"Per capita income of the citizens of Bangladesh is higher than that of the Indians. The economic situation of the neighbouring country is better than that of us," he said.
Mr Chowdhury said that at a time when people have lost jobs owing to the pandemic, the central government has brought upon them another big blow by bringing the farm laws.
Anti-labour laws brought by the central government are also taking away the rights of workers, he claimed.
"Instead of bringing in a vaccine for Covid-19, working for the betterment of healthcare services in the country and helping the economically distressed people, the government has taken advantage of the situation brought in anti-farmer and anti-labour laws," he said.