Two police personnel, including an assistant sub-inspector (ASI), was suspended in Madhya Pradesh’s (MP) Barwani district, located about 313 kilometres (km) south-west of the state capital Bhopal, by the superintendent of police (SP) on Friday evening after a video clip went viral on social media.
The 50-second clip showed a policeman is dragging a Sikh by his hair in public amid pushing and jostling, while his companion, belonging to the same faith, is pleading with the law enforcers not to beat him, with folded hands.
The incident, which reportedly occurred at Palsud, a town in Barwani district and located about 35 km from the district headquarters, on Thursday, sparked a nationwide outrage among the members of the Sikh community and its backlash echoed on social media.
The MP unit of the Congress, which is the main opposition in the state, demanded stern action against the two police personnel responsible for the incident that reportedly occurred during a routine check on vehicles.
The Sikh, identified as Prem Singh, is a resident of Palsud and a granthi at the local Gurdwara, even though the police claimed otherwise.
The district police authorities, however, denied the charges of excesses.
They claimed that Singh is facing three criminal charges and his turban fell off during an argument with the policemen, who had stopped him to check his vehicle.
Barwani district police administration put out a press release to calm down the frayed nerves and the social media outrage over the purported manhandling of a member of the minority Sikh community.
“Superintendent of Police (SP) Nimish Agrawal has suspended ASI Seetaram Bhatnagar and head constable Mohan Jamre for not initiating action, as per the laid-down procedure. A probe into the incident has been assigned to the sub-divisional officer of police (SDoP), Rajpur,” the release stated.
“During a check on vehicles on Thursday evening, two Sikligars (members of Sikh community), who were travelling on a motorbike were stopped. One of them is Prem Singh, a resident of ward no. 15 of Palsud. Police record showed Prem Singh is facing theft charges under three police stations in Jabalpur district. He got into an altercation, when he was asked to show his two-wheeler’s papers. The on-duty police personnel suspected him of driving the vehicle under the influence of alcohol and wanted him to accompany them to a police station for a medical examination. The police personnel has been suspended and a probe has been initiated since they didn’t follow the laid-down procedure while conducting the check on the vehicle,” it added.
Later, Singh alleged that the police personnel had demanded Rs 250 from him after he had failed to furnish his two-wheeler’s papers. He further alleged that they started thrashing him, when he pleaded his inability to pay up Rs 250 because he had earned only Rs 200 on that day.
MP Congress president Kamal Nath has spoken in favour of Singh.
“Prem Singh, who is a granthi, was beaten by the police personnel in an inhuman manner. Such atrocities are an insult to the Sikh religion and can’t be tolerated. The state government must take strict action against the guilty,” he said,
Union minister for food processing, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, a Sikh herself, tweeted, “Beastly attack on Giani Prem Singh granthi and other Sikhs in MP is an outrage against humanity. Utterly reprehensible & unacceptable. Sikhs all over the world are deeply shocked. I urge CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan to take immediate and exemplary action against all those guilty of this brutality.”
Several other Sikh leaders, including Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Sukhbir Singh Badal, president of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) and national spokesperson of SAD, Manjinder Singh Sirsa, condemned the incident and demanded immediate action against the guilty police personnel.
MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who is under home quarantine after his recovery from coronavirus disease (Covid-19), also tweeted, “In Barwani district, ASI Seetaram Bhatnagar and head constable Mohan Jamre have been suspended immediately for inhuman treatment to our Sikh brothers. Such brutality with Sikhs will not be tolerated in any way. The matter will be probed by the DIG (deputy inspector-general), Indore, and strict action will be taken in this regard.”
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