Would you consider a Muslim police officer to be Pakistani? Mamata Banerjee responds to the "Khalistani" row

On Tuesday, the state police asserted that Adhikari directed a derogatory term associated with the Khalistani movement towards a Sikh police officer, sparking controversy.

Expressing solidarity, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee voiced her support for the Sikh IPS officer allegedly subjected to the "Khalistani" slur by certain Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists. Banerjee emphasized that the officer was merely fulfilling his duty and should not have been labeled as a 'Khalistani' solely for wearing a turban.

During an event commemorating Language Day, Banerjee underscored the officer's innocence, questioning the rationale behind associating Sikh identity with the Khalistani label. She highlighted the diversity within the police force, including Sikh regiments, and reiterated her administration's commitment to respecting all religions. Banerjee also condemned the use of divisive terms and cautioned against disparaging individuals based on their religious affiliations.

Banerjee further rebuked those responsible for tarnishing Bengal's reputation with such actions, labeling them as the region's primary stain. Earlier, she shared a video capturing the altercation between BJP activists and police, wherein the Sikh officer was subjected to the offensive epithet.

The incident unfolded when the Sikh officer, stationed at Dhamakhali to deter BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari from visiting Sandeshkhali town in North 24 Parganas district, was confronted by protesting BJP workers who allegedly branded him a 'Khalistani'.

In response, the state police accused Adhikari of directing the derogatory term towards the Sikh officer. The police condemned this attack on the individual's religious identity and assured that stringent legal measures would be pursued.

Adhikari, accompanied by BJP MLA Agnimitra Paul, was en route to Sandeshkhali, where unrest had persisted for over ten days due to allegations of land-grabbing and sexual assault under coercion by Trinamool Congress leader Sheikh Shahjahan and his associates. Despite 18 arrests made thus far in connection with the violent protests, Shahjahan remains at large following a January incident where a mob, purportedly linked to him, assaulted Enforcement Directorate officials conducting a raid related to a ration scam.

With inputs from various agencies, the scenario underscores the volatile political landscape in West Bengal, as highlighted in HT's talk show 'The Interview with Kumkum Chadha,' featuring a segment titled 'Elections 2024: The Big Picture,' which delves into discussions on the impending general elections.

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