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'Totally Unacceptable': Sikh IPS Officer Called 'Khalistani' by BJP's Suvendu Adhikari

BJP leaders who were stopped on the way to Sandeshkhali allegedly called Special Superintendent of Police Jaspreet Singh 'Khalistani', leading to outrage from the police as well as politicians from other parties.
Jaspreet Singh speaking to BJP members. Photo: Screengrab from video

Jalandhar: A video of a Sikh Indian Police Service (IPS) officer posted in West Bengal went viral on social media on Tuesday, when Bharatiya Janata Party’s leader of opposition in the assembly Suvendu Adhikari reportedly labelled him a ‘Khalistani’ during the saffron party’s protest against the Sandeshkhali incident. Adhikari’s statement led to a major political controversy in the country.

BJP legislators under the leadership of Adhikari were trying to enter Sandeshkhali village in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district, when suddenly he accused IPS officer Jaspreet Singh of being a ‘Khalistani’. Singh is posted as Special Superintendent of Police (SSP), Intelligence Branch (IB) at the Basirhat police station, West Bengal.

No sooner did the video go viral on social media, opposition parties slammed the BJP for its ‘anti-minority’ stand and use of slurs.

Two BJP leaders – Asansol South MLA Agnimitra Paul and Adhikari – figure prominently in the video, where they can be seen arguing with the police. The BJP is on the backfoot; its Punjab leadership is mum over the episode.

Talking to The Wire, Singh said he was on duty in Sandeshkhali village under the Basirhat police station when this incident took place.

“As Section 144 CrPC was in place, we tried to stop a group of politicians (BJP legislators) under the leadership of Suvendu Adhikari, the Leader of Opposition in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly, from entering Sandeshkhali. It was when we stopped the politicians that Suvendu Adhikari called me ‘Khalistani’, which was totally unacceptable. I responded strongly against this,” he said.

The 2016-batch IPS officer from Faridabad, Haryana said that when he confronted Adhikari, the BJP leader backed off and women leaders came to the forefront. “That’s when Suvendu Adhikari went behind and sat there,” he said.

In a message to minorities, particularly Sikhs, in the backdrop of growing instances of violence against them, Singh urged people not to consider themselves as ‘helpless’ or ‘victims’. “Rather, be capable and strong enough to fight not only for yourself but for others’ rights and dignity as well,” he added.

“We are expecting legal action soon. Our police team is examining the video footage and legal action will be taken as per law,” said Singh.

When the West Bengal high court’s orders came, the police allowed the BJP legislators to enter Sandeshkhali at around 12.30-1 pm, Singh said.

This incident took place at a time when farmers – many of them Sikhs – who are making their way to Delhi for the ‘Delhi Chalo’ morcha were already being branded as ‘Khalistanis’ and facing an onslaught on social media. Ever since the Delhi Chalo morcha began on February 13, ‘Khalistanis’ has been trending on social media site X.

The video

In the video, Singh can be seen standing in the crowd and angrily responding to MLA Agnimitra Paul on the slur, “I will take action on this. Just because I am wearing a turban, you labelled me a Khalistani? You cannot say anything about my religion. Has anybody said anything about your religion? Then why did you comment on my religion?”

The police officer then told Paul loudly, “Nobody is making any comments on religion, only you are making. If any police personnel are wearing a turban, will they be assumed to be Khalistanis? I am not discussing your faith, don’t bring up mine either. How dare you label me a Khalistani! Is this your level?”

Taking note of the incident, the West Bengal Police in a statement on X said, “We the West Bengal Police fraternity are outraged to share the video, where one of our own officers was called ‘Khalistani’ by the state’s Leader of Opposition. His ‘fault’: he is both a proud Sikh and a capable police officer who was trying to enforce the law.”

“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,” the police statement read. “Stern legal action is being initiated.”

Political leaders slam BJP

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee lashed out at the BJP and wrote on X: “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 and 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.”

The All-India Trinamool Congress, the ruling party in West Bengal, shared a video where Sikh community members held a protest raising ‘Kisan Virodhi BJP, Sikh Virodhi BJP murdabaad’ slogans and wrote on X: “Members of the Sikh community staged a protest outside BJP’s party office demanding an apology for the communal slurs made by none other than the LoP Suvendu Adhikari against an on duty IPS officer.

“To them, every turban wearing man is a ‘Khalistani’. Apologise @PM Narendra Modi.”

The TMC also issued a press note in which it stated that sparking outrage across the nation, Adhikari on Tuesday perversely referred to an on-duty IPS officer as Khalistani while attempting to disturb the law and order situation in Sandeshkhali. “This was a flagrant violation of the Calcutta High Court’s directives which specifically prohibited the leader from issuing inflammatory speeches in the areas,” it said.

Earlier addressing a press conference, AITC Mahila Wing president Chandrima Bhattacharya said, “The country had not seen this level of divisive politics before 2014, the year BJP came to power. Since then, we have seen BJP engaging in such tactics multiple times. Even during the farmers’ protests, they had deployed similar tactics.”

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Advocate Harjinder Singh Dhami expressed strong resentment against this incident and wrote on X:

“The intentional character assassination of a Sikh IPS officer S. Jaspreet Singh by the BJP leaders in West Bengal is highly condemnable. 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. Sikhs do not need a certificate from anyone, rather they know how to perform services for the nation in accordance with their traditions and customs.”

Dhami also wrote, “It is a big question that such people in the country deliberately create an atmosphere of hatred but the governments remain silent. Those who create such an atmosphere should be punished so that people who are honestly doing their duty in different areas do not have to be victims of such hate.”

Leader of opposition in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha and senior Congress leader Partap Singh Bajwa also said, “This is shameful beyond words. BJP workers in West Bengal are calling a Sikh IPS officer Khalistani just because he is doing his duty. Is this what BJP thinks about the Sikhs? A strong action should be taken against those trying to create this hooliganism and portraying Sikhs as Khalistanis.”

Earlier, Shiromani Akali Dal spokesperson Daljit Singh Cheema also slammed the BJP and said, “Labelling a decorated Sikh Police officer as Khalistani who was performing bonafide duties as police officer in West Bengal is strongly condemnable, highly objectionable and a case of serious hate crime. A case should be registered against the culprit and the guilty must be given exemplary punishment.”

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