Siliguri / Kolkata: A policeman of Islamic faith was forcibly driven out of duty in Siliguri by a colleague for reporting to duty sporting a beard.
The incident took place on Friday in front of the north Bengal branch secretariat Uttarkanya in Siliguri where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was camping at the fag end of her Darjeeling district tour.
The policeman who was driven away from duty is Md K Anwar, an assistant sub-inspector with a State Armed Police battalion based in Birbhum. He was brought to Siliguri with other policemen to perform security duty during the Chief Minister’s visit.
Anwar, along with other police personnel, was standing in front of Uttarkanya on Friday afternoon as part of a road security party as the Chief Minister’s convoy was set to leave Uttarkanya for Bagdogra Airport.
It was during this that Dipankar Goswami, an assistant sub-inspector attached to New Jalpaiguri police station, confronted Anwar and sought to know why he was sporting a beard and came to duty in this condition.
Anwar tried to reason with Goswami that he has been serving the police force with the beard for several years now. But this did not satisfy Goswami and he forced Anwar to leave the place at once. Anwar was made to board an auto rickshaw that was heading towards central Siliguri.
The incident has triggered a controversy in the police circles because a litigation pending at the Supreme Court on whether security personnel can sport a beard on duty.
Asked about the incident, West Bengal IG (law and order) Anuj Sharma said that reporting to duty properly dressed and clean is a must but sporting a beard is not banned provided a policeman takes permission from his superiors in advance.
Sharma said that he will enquire whether the policeman concerned had obtained permission and if so, why he was forced away from duty by his colleague.