The West Bengal government on Sunday accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of giving “communal colour” to the incident where a Sikh man’s turban fell off during a tussle with the police at a rally in Howrah earlier this week.

“One political party is giving communal colour to the subject in narrow partisan interest in a manner that Bengal does not believe in,” the state’s home department tweeted, in an apparent reference to the BJP. “Policing was done as per law, but highest respect for the Sikh panth and ways from the government of West Bengal is confirmed.”

The Bengal government added that the incident was being “twisted” out of context. “Our Sikh brothers and sisters live here in West Bengal in perfect peace and harmony, in happiness and tranquility, with respect from all of us for their faith and practices,” it said.

The state government said that the Sikh man in question had been carrying arms. “A recent incident when one isolated individual got caught with one illegally carried firearm amidst an agitation that was not authorized is now being twisted out of context, being distorted, and being given communal colors in fractious and partisan interest.”

The incident took place on Thursday when hundreds of BJP workers clashed with the police during a protest in Howrah. They marched to Nabanna, the state secretariat, in protest against the deteriorating law and order situation in the state. A huge controversy broke out after the video of the incident appeared on social media.

The BJP accused the police of hurting the religious sentiment of the Sikh community by pulling off the turban of Balwinder Singh, a 43-year-old resident of Bathinda city in Punjab. He is a personal security guard of BJP leader Priyanshu Pandey, according to News18.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and cricketer Harbhajan Singh had also expressed outrage over the incident and urged West Bengal Chief Mamata Banerjee to take appropriate action.

The police, on the other hand, clarified that they had not pulled the man’s turban. “The pagri [turban] had fallen off automatically in the scuffle that ensued, without any attempt to do so by our officer (visible in the video attached),” the West Bengal Police tweeted on Friday. “It is never our intention to hurt the sentiments of any community.” The police added that an officer specifically asked Singh to put back his turban.

National Commission for Minorities takes note of incident

The National Commission for Minorities on Sunday took cognisance of the incident after Delhi BJP spokesperson Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga’s complaint.

“Complaint Filed to Minority commission of India to take action against West Bengal Police for Pulling of Turban of Sikh Security officer Sardar Balwinder Singh,” Bagga tweeted. “I request Atif Rasheed [a member of the panel] to take strict action.”

Rasheed acknowledged Bagga’s tweet and responded: “As a member of Minorities Commission I have immediately taken cognizance of your complaint and the Commission will take the required action in the matter by tomorrow [Monday].”

Meanwhile, a delegation led by the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee President Manjinder Singh Sirsa met West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar over the incident.

“As Governor I assured the delegation that all steps would be taken for such outrage,” Dhankhar tweeted after the meeting. “In no civilised society such blatant abuse of police power by the West Bengal police, in disregard of Supreme Court directives in the case of DK Basu can be countenanced or condoned.”