New York: Authorities in New Jersey have called for the resignation of a senior law enforcement official after a secret recording surfaced in which he allegedly made racist remarks about America's first Sikh-American Attorney General Gurbir Grewal over his turban.

Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino allegedly made multiple controversial remarks during a conversation on January 16 that took place after Phil Murphy was appointed as the governor of New Jersey. 

The recordings were retrieved by WNYC, in which Saudino is heard saying that New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy appointed Grewal because of "the turban".

“He didn't do that because of Bergen County; he did that because of the turban," Saudino said of Murphy's selection of Grewal, who at the time was the Bergen County prosecutor.

In the available audio, Saudino, using expletives, says: "Let the blacks come in smoke their marijuana, do this do that, and don't worry about it. You know, we'll tie the hands of cops..." Saudino also targeted Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver and asked whether she is gay "Because she's never been married."

WNYC said in a report that the conversation was recorded on January 16, following Murphy's gubernatorial inauguration, which Saudino attended. The report quoted Murphy as saying that "without question, the comments made on that recording are appalling, and anyone using racist, homophobic, and hateful language is unfit for public office." 

Grewal tweeted that he had heard the recording. "If that's Sheriff Saudino's voice, then he should resign immediately, Grewal said.

Grewal further tweeted that he has "got thick skin and I've been called far worse. But the comments about the African-American community are wrong, racist, and hurtful. The comments about our Lieutenant Governor are inappropriate and homophobic. New Jersey and Bergen County deserve better”.

A report in said Saudino has offered his "sincere apology to the people of Bergen County for the insensitive recorded remarks made public”.

In a statement issued by the Bergen County Sheriff's office, Saudino said: "In an effort to repair the damage to the friendships that I have built with these communities I have reached out directly to several respected leaders in the communities I have offended and I have personally offered my apologies and I have asked for their forgiveness and for their communities' forgiveness.

Sikh advocacy group Sikh Coalition condemned Saudino's comments, demanding that Saudino immediately apologise and resign from his post.

The group said that the remarks by Saudino join the line of racist moments that Grewal has experienced throughout his life. In July 2018, two New Jersey radio hosts faced severe backlash and criticism after they made disrespectful remarks about the Attorney General. Since becoming the first Sikh state Attorney General in the United States, AG Grewal is regularly subjected to death threats, the group added.