One person was left with a fractured shoulder and at least two others received minor injuries when the police resorted to lathi-charge to disperse a group of BJP supporters who became unruly while protesting against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s visit to Batala on Sunday.
While Kejriwal has faced minor protests at several places since he began his five-day tour of Punjab on Thursday to officially start the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) campaign ahead of the Assembly elections slated next year, this was the biggest, most organised protest thus far.
Kejriwal was in Batala to meet a few families of victims of drug addiction.
“There were around 400 BJP workers and they wanted to created trouble at the venue where Kejriwal was reaching,” Batala SSP Daljinder Singh Dhillon said. “To maintain law and order, we attempted to stop them and remove them from Gandhi chowk. It resulted in scuffle and the shoulder of one person (a BJP worker) was fractured and another had a minor head injury.”
No one, the SSP emphasised, was allowed to go near the venue of Kejriwal’s function.
BJP’s Batala president Suresh Bhatia said they were protesting peacefully and the police removed them forcefully. “Eight of our workers are injured,” he said.
Alleging that Kejriwal had supported those who raised “anti-national slogans” in Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on February 9, Bhatia said, “It was our responsibility to not allow him (Kejriwal) to move freely in Batala. He should first apologise to the nation.”
Earlier in the day, Kejriwal told the media that Delhi Police, which is under the Union Home Ministry, had not arrested the people who actually raised the slogans in JNU and has instead booked students on charges of sedition. Indicating that it was the handiwork of a few Kashmiris, he said, “Everyone is hurt with the kind of slogans raised in JNU. But the police are not interested in arresting those who really raised the slogans.”
Alleging that the BJP is deliberately gunning for the wrong men and playing politics over the issue, he said, “I have read in some newspapers that the BJP is going to form government in Jammu and Kashmir again in alliance with the PDP. Any such arrest (of Kashmiris in Delhi) will disturb their plan.”
While a large section of JNU students, and those arrested, claim that outsiders, primarily Kashmiris, had raised allegedly secessionist and anti-India slogans on February 9, Kejriwal did not mention specifically that Kashmiri youths were behind it.