A day after AAP supporters stormed the BJP headquarters here and came to blows with BJP workers over Arvind Kejriwal’s detention in Gujarat, police on Thursday questioned AAP leaders Ashutosh, Shazia Ilmi and Akhilesh Tripathi for nearly five hours.
Ashutosh is AAP’s Lok Sabha candidate from Chandni Chowk. Tripathi is the party’s Model Town MLA.
“Shazia Ilmi and Ashutosh, who have been named in the FIR among other AAP leaders, were called in to join the investigation and their statements were recorded. They claimed innocence, saying they did not instigate violence. Their statements will be corroborated with video-footage and eyewitness accounts,” DCP (New Delhi) S B S Tyagi said.
Police said Ilmi, who was taken to Parliament Street police station from Greater Kailash, and Ashutosh, who was taken to Tilak Marg police station from Model Town, were asked why they did not seek police permission for the protest. They were also asked who organised the protest and who circulated the bulk SMSes, asking supporters to gather outside the BJP headquarters.
Police said other leaders named in the FIR — including Akhilesh Tripathi, Prof Anand Kumar, Jarnail Singh, Surender Singh and Jagdeep Singh — too will be questioned. Kumar, a sociology professor at JNU, is AAP’s Lok Sabha candidate from Northeast Delhi constituency.
Ashutosh alleged it was a clear case of “police being hand in glove with the BJP”. “Three-dozen AAP volunteers were injured on Wednesday. The whole world saw on television how BJP workers beat our volunteers with sticks. The victims are being projected as culprits…,” he said.
Ilmi said, “I told police that I had not received any messages about the protest and even showed them my phone details. I was on my way to Jantar Mantar for a TV discussion when I saw AAP supporters outside the BJP office. I got off the car to see what was happening. A stone was thrown at an AAP woman volunteer standing next to me. How could I have instigated the violence? It is unfortunate that no FIR has been registered against the BJP workers who attacked our volunteers…”
The Delhi Election Commission issued a notice to the AAP for alleged violation of the model code of conduct. It asked the party to explain by 3 pm on Friday why action should not be initiated against it for holding a protest without permission from poll officials.
Charging the AAP to be working at the behest of the Congress, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley drew parallels between Kejriwal and Hitler’s propaganda chief Goebbels. “If Joseph Goebbels was reborn, he surely would have joined the Aam Aadmi Party,” Jaitley said in an article posted on his website, underlining that Kejriwal was neither arrested nor detained by the Gujarat Police, but still the AAP leader sought to make “the routine check under the model code of conduct” in Gujarat into “a national crisis”.
“We have asked the EC to initiate steps against the new outfit to stop it from disturbing peace…,” BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.