A widely circulated video showing police personnel dragging a Sikh man by his hair in Madhya Pradesh’s Barwani district, has sparked public outrage, PTI reported on Friday. The video also showed one of the police officers shoving another man in a turban who tried to intervene.
The police said that the man, identified as Prem Singh, was a caretaker of a gurdwara and reader of Guru Granth Sahib.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said that police officers, Assistant Sub Inspector Sitaram Yadav and Head Constable Mohan Jamre, had been suspended with immediate effect for assaulting the men. He added an inquiry will be initiated by the Indore Deputy Inspector General of Police.
“I am pained to learn about the barbaric incident of Barwani,” he tweeted. “Such barbarism and erratic behaviour won’t be tolerated at any cost. The guilty will be punished for the misdeeds.”
Barwani Superintendent of Police Nimish Agrawal also said an investigation by a sub-divisional police officer has been ordered into the incident, which took place on Thursday.
Union Minister for Food Processing and Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal tweeted a video of the incident. “Beastly attack on Giani Prem Singh Granthi and other Sikhs in MP is an outrage against humanity,” she wrote on Twitter. “Utterly reprehensible and unacceptable! Sikhs all over the world are deeply shocked.”
In the video, Singh can be seen cowering at the feet of the policeman, who grabs his hair. “They are beating us, they are killing us, the police are pulling us by our hair,” Singh can be heard saying. “They are not allowing us to set up our stall.”
The incident allegedly took place after an altercation broke out between Prem Singh’s family and the police over setting up a stall in the Rajpur tehsil area of Barwani district. Singh told PTI he ran a small business of old lock and keys close to the police station.
However, the police have refuted this and claimed Singh was in an inebriated state, according to NDTV. They said he created a ruckus when he was asked to show his driving licence during a checking drive.
“Our policemen were on vehicle-checking duty when they stopped two men, including Prem Singh, riding a motorcycle,” Agarwal told the channel. “While the riders didn’t have driving licence, one of them was drunk. When the policemen tried to bring them to the outpost, one of them created a ruckus there.”
Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh Congress spokesperson Narendra Saluja said the police action was an insult to religious sentiments. “The concerned man Prem Singh Granthi has long been running a lock-keys shop near the Pulsood police outpost,” he tweeted. “He was beaten, his turban stripped and then he was pulled through hair on the road in full public view by cops. This amounts to desecrating religious sentiments of the Sikh community.”