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Fact Check

Old Photo Of Police Detaining Sikh Man Shared With Misleading Claim

BOOM found that the photo shows the West Bengal police detaining Balwinder Singh, a private security officer, in 2020 on charges of possessing firearms during a protest.

By - Srijit Das | 21 Feb 2024 11:51 AM GMT

An old image of a police personnel dragging a man by his hair has surfaced on X platform with captions falsely stating that it shows supporters of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi mistreating a Sikh.

BOOM found that the photo is from 2020 and shows the West Bengal Police detaining one Balwinder Singh, a private security officer for carrying firearms during the BJP's 'Nabanna March' protest.

On February 20, 2024, the West Bengal Police alleged that BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari referred to an IPS officer wearing a turban as a "Khalistani," prompting the initiation of strict legal action against him. The IPS officer, SSP Jaspreet Singh was assigned to prevent protesting BJP workers, including Adhikari, from visiting Sandeshkhali. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee criticised the alleged remark, stating that the BJP assumes anyone wearing a turban is a Khalistani. 

A verified handle on X shared the photo with a Hindi caption that translates to, "Shame on Rahul Gandhi and his cronies, how they have treated a Sikh police officer."

(Original Text in Hindi: धिक्कार है राहुल गांधी और उसके चमचों पर, एक सिख पुलिस अधिकारी के साथ कैसा सलूक किया है।)


Click here to view the post. 

Fact Check 

BOOM ran a reverse image search on the picture and found an October 9, 2020 post from the official handle of Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal, carrying the viral image.

Badal posted the picture with the caption, "Strongly condemn the vicious attack on a Sikh security official Balwinder Singh & disrespect of his turban by West Bengal Police. The dishonour has infuriated Sikhs across the world. I urge Mamata Banerjee ji to take exemplary action against the erring policemen."

Click here to view the post. 

According to reports, the BJP leaders alleged that during their 'Nabanna Abhiyan' protest, the police forcibly removed the turban of a Sikh man.

The Indian Express on October 10, 2020, reported about the incident stating, "The man, Balwinder Singh (46), is a private security guard of BJP leader Priyanshu Pandey and was arrested for allegedly carrying a loaded gun during a BJP rally to Nabanna on Thursday. Pandey has also been arrested. Police said Balwinder, a resident of Punjab’s Bhatinda, is also an aide of (the then) BJP’s Barrackpore MP Arjun Singh."

West Bengal police also posted visuals of the incident on October 9, 2020, and clarified, "The concerned person was carrying firearms in yesterday's protest. The Pagri had fallen off automatically in the scuffle that ensued, without any attempt to do so by our officer (visible in the video attached). It is never our intention to hurt the sentiments of any community."


Click here to view the post. 

Below is another footage of the incident posted by former Tripura governor Tathagata Roy.

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Later, Karamjit Kaur, wife of Balwinder Singh, told Anandabazar Patrika Online on October 17, 2020, that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee presented a salwar suit and kurta-pajama to her son during the Durga Puja festivities. Kaur expressed her desire to reciprocate the gesture by gifting a turban to the chief minister.

The report also noted that Mamata Banerjee's actions resulted in the cancellation of protests that were earlier planned by members of the Sikh community.

Former president of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, Manjinder Singh Sirsa, then shared a photo of the security officer's wife, with a caption, "Special thanks to Mamata Banerjee Ji for the assurance given by DGP of Bengal Police towards justice to Karamjeet Kaur, wife of ex-armyman Balwinder Singh. Mamta Ji has also sent a suit for Karamjit Kaur which is the most beautiful gift given to her during Bengal Pooja".

 Click here to view the post.