The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday directed the Delhi Police to submit a report in the Khirki Extension midnight raid case after it received a complaint against former law minister and AAP leader Somnath Bharti in this regard.
Acting on a complaint filed by Delhi-based lawyer Shehzad Poonawalla (26), who sought Bharti’s arrest for midnight raids at the residences of African women in Khirki Extension, the NHRC directed police as well as its own members to investigate the matter and submit a report within eight weeks.
Speaking to Newsline, NHRC Information officer Jaimini Kumar Srivastava said, “I must clarify that police was not directed to arrest Bharti, as is being suggested by some media reports. The Commission has taken suo motu cognisance of the incident and expected some reports from the authorities concerned in the matter, while simultaneously getting the issue investigated by its team, report on which is still awaited.”
Poonawalla had submitted a complaint with the NHRC a day after the midnight raid, seeking Bharti’s arrest. According to him, the former law minister behaved “just like the Shiv Sena of Delhi” when he made “racial, xenophobic” attacks on the African women.
Poonawalla alleged that Bharti had violated several sections of the Indian Penal Code, including Sections 186 (obstruction of public servants), 145 (unlawful assembly), 340 (wrongful restraint), 354A (unwelcome physical contact of making the women undergo forcible urine tests), 153a (making racial comments), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 509 (insult to woman by outraging modesty), among others.
“There is a litany of charges against Somnath. I had sought NHRC intervention in the matter a day after the incident. They took some time to process the matter and ruled in my favour. On Sunday, I received official communication from them about this order being issued,” Poonawalla told Newsline.
When contacted, AAP spokesperson Deepak clarified they had not received any communication from NHRC in this regard. “This is an attempt to malign AAP. The BJP and the Congress will resort to all this,” he said.
Responding to this, Poonawalla told Newsline, “I support Congress but I am a lawyer first. I have been a social activist for a long time and in the court of law, the IPC matters. The NHRC is an apolitical body so there is no question of a political agenda in this matter.”