BJP's Suvendu Adhikari In Trouble Over "Khalistani" Slur For IPS Officer

Mamata Banerjee said, ""We stand firm in protecting Bengal's social harmony and will take stern lawful measures to prevent any attempts to disrupt it"


A BJP leader's "Khalistani" slur for a Sikh police officer in Bengal snowballed into the next big political controversy after a video of the resulting confrontation made it to social media today. State Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the Sikh body SGPC (Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee) and the Congress have slammed the BJP.  Accusing Bengal's Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari of making the remark, the state police said they would take strong legal action. The BJP has denied the allegation, and accused the police of being subservient to the ruling Trinamool Congress.

"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… this comment is as much malicious and racial as it is communally inciting. It is a criminal act," read parts of a series of posts from the official handle of the state police.

Led by Suvendu Adhikari, the protesters were on way to Sandeshkhali, when they were stopped by the police. In the confrontation that followed, one of the protesters apparently called a senior police officer on duty at the spot a "Khalistani".

The video showed the angry officer responding. "I'm wearing a turban, that's why you call me a Khalistani? I will take action about this... You cannot attack my religion. I have not said anything about your religion," the officer is heard saying.

The BJP workers remained unfazed. "You do your job... you just butter them up. you are sycophants," a woman is heard shouting.

Accusing the BJP of practicing "divisive politics", Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee condemned it.

"Leaders who have such thinking in the country should never forget that Sikhs have made the most sacrifices for the freedom and protection of the country… It is a big question that such people in the country deliberately create an atmosphere of hatred but the governments remain silent," posted SGCP chief Harjinder Singh Dhami.

The sharpest barb came from Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge who directly targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"The sting of religious fanaticism spread by the BJP is poisoning our diverse culture to such an extent that protectors of the law are being branded terrorists in the name of religion. Is "Sabka Saath" now meant to tear down the Constitution made by Babasaheb Ambedkar? Mr. Modi, Your only objective is to spread disharmony, hatred and violence between religions, sects and communities,"read a rough translation of his post.

In a statement, the BJP denied using any slur. "No one used the pejorative term for the officer. He just chose to flout service rules and used the occasion to attract undue attention on to himself, by flying off the handle, when he should have been focusing on upholding the law," the statement read.

The party also posted video and photos of police manhandling Sikh protesters, and in the statement, said, "It is a shame that the WB Police is willing to be a political pawn in the hands of Mamata Banerjee and is dragging in religion. Here is a video and images to remind how disrespectful WB Police has been towards the Sikhs. You have pulled off turbans and dragged Sikh protestors on the streets, for taking on Mamata Banerjee's decrepit administration. So don't lecture us".

The BJP workers were on way to south Bengal's Sandeshkhali after a court order allowed the visit, setting aside the roadblocks imposed by the administration.  

The island in Sundarbans, close to Bangladesh border, has been in the eye of a political storm since the locals  accused a Trinamool Congress strongman of sexual exploitation and land grabbing.

While a few people have been arrested, the main accused, Sheikh Shahjahan, has been on the run.

Given the turmoil, the administration had placed the area under prohibitory orders banning large gatherings and refused the opposition to visit the spot.