Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s protest ended Tuesday evening after an uneasy compromise with Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung. He agreed to the L-G’s decision to send on leave two of the four police officers against whom the AAP government had sought action, acceding to the appeal to call off the confrontation in view of the Republic Day celebrations.
The two police officers asked to go on leave are Malviya Nagar SHO Inspector Vijay Pal and Paharganj PCR in-charge Ramji Lal.
Kejriwal said it was a victory for the people. “Our party will continue to rake up issues of women’s safety whenever they are threatened. We had said the security of women is of utmost importance to us,” he said.
He also read out Jung’s letter while addressing supporters. According to the CM, this was the first time a chief minister and his entire cabinet had to take to the streets.
“Why was this needed? Because the previous government used to say police was not under them whenever such incidents happened. This Delhi government is not the ‘helpless’ one like the previous regime. The struggle for the protection of women will continue,” he said. Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi said he was satisfied with the outcome.
“The Lt -Governor made an appeal to the CM to call off the protest. Two of our officers will be on leave pending inquiry,” Bassi said. Asked if he still believed there was no wrongdoing on the part of the officers, he said the judicial inquiry would determine their alleged role in the cases.
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Kejriwal’s protest began Monday morning outside Rail Bhawan after his MLAs and he were stopped from proceeding to the North Block office of Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde.
According to Kejriwal, the Malviya Nagar SHO had refused to raid an alleged den of vice on orders from Law Minister Somnath Bharti and the PCR van in-charge of Paharganj had failed to prevent the gangrape of a Danish woman last week. Kejriwal had also demanded the suspension of the Sagarpur ACP and SHO for not investigating a dowry harassment case and the ACP in charge of Malviya Nagar. The protest had also morphed into a demand for total control over Delhi Police and even statehood.
Earlier in the day, Kejriwal had threatened to flood Rajpath in a bid to interrupt the Republic Day parade on Sunday. While Kejriwal insisted his politics was not anarchic, AAP supporters clashed with police near the venue of his protest.
The supporters, who had not been allowed entry to the protest site near Rail Bhawan, had stationed themselves near police barricades, while continuing a tirade of anti-police sloganeering.
By late afternoon, the crowd outside the barricades — on Rafi Marg and Dr Rajendra Prasad Road — had swelled to hundreds.
“They aren’t letting us in. This in spite of the fact that the Chief Minister has asked them to let us in. Delhi’s Police doesn’t care about Delhi, they only care about corruption,” Ram Kumar, an AAP supporter, said.
On Rajendra Prasad Road, the protests first turned violent with stone pelting, being followed by a few persons attempting to jump over barricades. A police officer was struck on the forehead by a stone and a journalist was injured while police tried to control the situation.
A few hours later, hundreds of AAP supporters — who were still being forced to stay outside the protest venue on Rafi Marg — surged through the barricades. In response, the police baton-charged the AAP supporters, as they pelted stones at the police while continuing their anti-police sloganeering. Two policemen and nine AAP supporters were injured.
Senior AAP leader Sanjay Singh accused the police of brutality and said, “Police brutality in situations like this is evident. Journalists and our volunteers were beaten up”.