Bengal governor calls Balwinder Singh victim of human rights violation

West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar said Wednesday evening that Balwidner Singh, the Sikh man whose turban fell off when he was arrested for carrying a pistol at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) agitation in Howrah on October 8, is a victim of human rights violation.

Balwinder Singh’s wife Karamjit Kaur and son Harshveer Singh flew down to Kolkata with Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee president Manjinder Singh Sirsa. They met the governor at Raj Bhawan and appealed for help after meeting police officials in Howrah.

Balwinder Singh is now in the custody of the Howrah district police and facing charges under several sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Indian Arms Act. He was charged with carrying a pistol the licence for which is invalid in West Bengal. The state BJP leadership earlier said that he works for a private security agency and was deployed to provide security to one of its leaders.

“Karamjit Kaur wife & son Harshveer #balwindersingh alongwith delegation @mssirsa called on me. It was a difficult moment for me to face his Wife and Son pleading for justice. I earnestly appeal @MamataOfficial to undo injustice #Balvindrasingh . @WBPolice @HomeBengal justice,” tweeted Dhankhar.

“On issues of violation of human rights State must be with victim rather than with perpetrators. Time @MamataOfficial to rise to occasion to undo injustice @WBPolice @HomeBengal & take immediate remedial steps #Balvindersingh. Sensitive stance would be wholesome for society,” he wrote.

Kaur said, “My husband comes from a family of soldiers who served the country. I appeal to the people of West Bengal, who are our friends, and chief minister Mamata Banerjee to do justice and release my husband,”

Sirsa, who is a Shiromani Akali Dal leader, has challenged the allegation that Balwinder’s arms licence is not valid in West Bengal. On Wednesday he submitted Singh’s flight documents to the governor and said Singh carried the firearm from Delhi to Kolkata with valid documents and an ‘all-India’ licence. “How can a man who served the army and fought in the Kargil War be treated like a terrorist? He has been charged under 15 sections,” said Sirsa.

Taking on the chief minister, the governor on Wednesday released a letter he wrote to her on October 11 after talking to her over the phone. The letter said that he wanted to talk about Balwinder Singh, the murder of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Manish Shukla on October 4 and other issues related to law and order in the state but the chief minister accused him of being partisan.

“Surely Chief Minister and her colleagues, in government and party, calling the Governor an agent of a particular party (and what not), as is the case, is not only derogatory for the office of the Governor, but quite self-demeaning, stooping too low to be completely avoidable. So is the accusatory tone towards the Governor,” said the letter.

“On October 8, all witnessed extensive breaches of basic and affirmed rights of the people. Enormity of violations generated wide spread consternation, reaction and wrath in the public when state apparatus unleashed virtual reign of terror with barbaric insensitivity. What happened graduate to the worst crimes in a civilised society governed by the Rule of Law. What happened to a Sikh has sent shock waves beyond the State. As per details in public domain, he was insultingly beaten, dragged and his turban disrespectfully treated in full public view by unstoppable police personnel,” Dhankhar wrote in the letter.

Reacting to this, BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said, “The BJP moves on its own strength. It does not need any support from the Raj Bhawan or any political party.”

TMC Lok Sabha member and party spokesperson Saugata Roy said, “Sikhs and Bengalis have always lived in harmony like brothers. No Sikh organisation in Bengal has raised this issue because everyone knows that it is an isolated incident and the turban came off during scuffling. The police have already explained that. Left with no other issue, the BJP is trying to use it to gain some political mileage.

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