In an unprecedented action, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and his ministers on Monday began a sit-in near India Gate — being readied for Republic Day celebrations — demanding action against police officials for alleged negligence in two crime-related complaints made by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ministers Somnath Bharti and Rakhi Birla.
Defying prohibitory orders enforced in the high-security area near the national seat of power, Kejriwal, accompanied by six of his ministers, attempted to go to North Block housing the home ministry to lodge a protest.
However, they were stopped near the Rail Bhavan as the nearby Vijay Chowk and the entire Rajpath were sealed for the Republic Day rehearsal.
Making an impromptu address to his MLAs and supporters, Kejriwal put the blame squarely on the Prime Minister, home minister and the Centre for the situation that led to his dharna and said he had come prepared for a 10-day stir.
"Some say I am an anarchist, yes I am. There is lawlessness in every home in the city, and today I'll spread disorder in the home minister’s house," Kejriwal said.
Bharti on last Wednesday set out to "uncover a sex and drug racket" at a building in south Delhi’s Khirki Extension, having earlier sent a decoy customer.
But when Bharti, a lawyer, asked the policemen accompanying him to raid the building, they refused in the absence of a search warrant or proper police back-up.
"The ‘raid’ would have been illegal," said a senior officer.
Birla, the women and child development minister, had her own run-in with the police in Sagarpur when they allegedly refused to apprehend the in-laws of a woman who has been hospitalised with 45% burns.
"I have come prepared for 10 days of dharna and hold the Prime Minister and the Centre responsible for (incidents leading to the commotion)… Any constitutional crisis or disturbance in Republic Day celebrations will be the responsibility of Centre," Kejriwal said as his supporters cheered on.
He also attacked the Delhi Police, saying they accept bribes from street vendors in the city and someone needs to take strict action against them.
"I did not want to disturb R-Day preparations, but when women of Delhi are feeling "unsafe" I can't keep quiet," he added.
Rejecting to home minister Sushilkumar Shinde's statement that action can be taken only after an inquiry, the chief minister demanded immediate suspension of the "corrupt" officials who refused to act in the interest of the public whose cause Bharti had taken up.
"Delhi government will not cooperate with inquiry against police in a South Delhi raid episode. Probe a waste," the Delhi CM said.
Shinde, meanwhile, said Kejriwal should respect his chair and wait for the report of the judicial inquiry ordered by Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung.
"The practice of the keeping the Delhi Police under the Centre’s purview is a common practice for capital cities. The cops cannot be brought under the Delhi government. A probe into Arvind Kejriwal’s complaints is being carried out and necessary action will be taken after the investigation," the home minister said.
The cops later asked Kejriwal to shift his dharna to Jantar Mantar from outside Rail Bhavan.
What Kejriwal said outside Rail Bhawan:
• Kejriwal urged Delhiites to come in large numbers, join his protest against cops; says he won't leave
• We are here for the safety and security of women in Delhi
• If cops don't help people what are they supposed to do? When they don't listen even to ministers
• Many cops have come to me. They want to work honestly but are forced to take money by seniors
• For us Independence Day will start here today, we will sit here, demand independence
• Kejriwal urges cops to take 5-6 days' leave, join his protest; says 'agar police commissioner kuchh karegenge to dekh liya jayega
• We must not indulge in any kind of arrest. We have to protest within the law
• People should think why there was a need for Delhi CM to organise a dharna
• There is a ex-home secy RK Singh who said SHOs send money to Shinde for postings
• There has been a rape and cops claim a probe is on. But just a probe isn't enough
• Someone should take responsibility for the incident whether a constable or an official
• Delhi Police has to be held responsible for the continuing rapes in the city
• We met Delhi Police chief, Sushilkumar Shinde and demanded suspension of SHO of the area where rape took place
• We asked for suspension of officials, where a woman was burnt by her in-laws. But nothing was done
• Some people from Cong, BJP and media said that Somnath Bharti should not work for the people
• Ugandan high commissioner has praised Somnath Bharti's raids
• High commissioner said a lot of women were brought to Delhi on promise of employment and forced into flesh trade