Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu has landed in a firestorm over a video of one of his speeches praising two party members for "being capable of making policemen wet their pants".
Former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Daljit Singh Cheema slammed him over the remark and a Chandigarh police officer sent him a defamation notice.
"I have sent a defamation notice to him for humiliating the police," Chandigarh Deputy Superintendent of Police Dilsher Singh Chandel said.
A sub-inspector also issued a video message condemning the remark.
Congress MP from Ludhiana Ravneet Singh Bittu has backed the policemen and praised them for their role during militancy and COVID-19 times.
The controversy erupted after Mr Sidhu, at a recent rally in Sultanpur Lodhi while pointing towards sitting MLA Navtej Singh Cheema, said he can "make a 'thanedar' (policeman) wet his pants".
He repeated the remark at a rally in Batala on Sunday while praising local leader Ashwani Sekhri who was standing by his side.
When reporters asked him about his remark, Mr Sidhu indicated that it should not be taken literally.
He said it's a way of saying the Congress "wields authority".
A video clip of Mr Sidhu making the remark went viral on social media inviting sharp reaction from some police officials and political leaders.
Punjab Lok Congress president and former chief minister Amarinder Singh said it was sad that the men in uniform were being disrespected.
SAD's Daljit Singh Cheema questioned the "silence" of Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and Home Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa over Mr Sidhu's remark.
He asked both of them to tell Mr Sidhu that he should refrain from making such a remark and ask him to withdraw his statement and seek apology from the police.
Chandigarh DSP Chandel dubbed Mr Sidhu's remark as "shameful".
"It is very shameful that such a senior leader uses these words for his own force and humiliates them," Chandel said.
"This is the same force which protects him (Sidhu) and his family," he said in a video message.
He even dared Mr Sidhu to return his security detail.
"Without (security) force, even a rickshaw puller will not listen to him," he said.
"I strongly condemn this remark and he (Sidhu) should not use such words for his force. The force has its own dignity and respect and it is our responsibility to maintain this dignity," he said.
In a video message, Sub-Inspector Balbir Singh, posted in Jalandhar (Rural), said, "Such language was used by a senior leader against us, I strongly condemn it." He also requested the Punjab DGP not to allow the image of police to be affected.
"We live with our families in the society and our children question us why such language is being used against us," Balbir Singh said.
He said this remark was not against any 'thanedar' but against the entire police force.
"I want to tell Sidhu Sahib that we are not cowards. We are brave and the whole country knows about the tales of our bravery," he said as he recalled the role of police against militancy.
Without caring for their own lives, the personnel of the Punjab police provided food to the needy at their homes during the COVID-19 outbreak, he added.
Commenting on the videos of the Chandigarh DSP and the sub-inspector, Ludhiana MP Bittu lauded the Punjab police for its role in eliminating terrorism from the state.
Mr Bittu, whose grandfather and the then chief minister Beant Singh died in a bomb blast in 1995, said, "Some videos of a DSP and sub-inspector have gone viral. First of all whatever has been said about the police, I seek apology," he said.
"I know it is Punjab police personnel, from senior IPS officer to the constable level, which did not care for their own lives and curbed terrorism with iron hand," Bittu wrote on his Facebook page.
Mr Bittu said during the COVID-19 outbreak, the police force personnel took food to the homes of people.
Referring to the Ludhiana court bomb blast, he said it was the Punjab police which reached the spot first.
"How will they protect people if we use wrong words against them. It was very important that we stand by them," he said.
"We are proud of you and we salute you," he said.