Triggering a fresh crisis in the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi, Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash has alleged that he was assaulted by AAP MLAs at Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence on Monday night, in the presence of the chief minister.
Protesting against the alleged assault, staff members at the Delhi Secretariat reportedly heckled and assaulted Environment Minister Imran Hussain and senior AAP leader Ashish Khetan in the afternoon. Meanwhile, countering the chief secretary’s charges, two AAP MLAs, Prakash Jarwal and Ajay Dutt, have alleged that he used casteist slurs against them.
The latest controversy comes a month after 20 AAP MLAs were disqualified by the Election Commission of India. In a complaint to the Additional DCP, North, Harendra Singh, Prakash, who was appointed Delhi chief secretary last December, has alleged that he was called to Kejriwal’s residence at midnight on Monday to discuss the “issue of difficulty in release of certain TV advertisements relating to completion of three years of current government in Delhi”.
According to Prakash, “around 11 MLAs/persons were present” at the meeting. “The MLAs started shouting at me and abused me while blaming me and the bureaucracy for not doing enough for publicity of the government. One MLA, whom I can identify, threatened that I will be confined in the room (for the) entire night unless I agree to release (the) TV campaign. A threat was made that I will be implicated in false cases, including under the SC/ST Act. The MLAs, whom I can identify, became more aggressive and abusive, extending threat to my life,” he has said in his complaint.
“Then suddenly Shri Amanatullah Khan, MLA and the person/ MLA on my left side, whom I can identify, without any provocation from my side, started hitting and assaulting me and hit several blows with fists on my head and temple. My spectacles fell on the ground. I was in a state of shock. With difficulty I was able to leave the room and get into my official car and leave (the) CM’s residence. At no stage did I retaliate or provoke any person in the room despite confinement, criminal intimidation by extending threat to my life, and assault by several MLAs while I was discharging my official duties,” he has said.
A case under Sections 186 (obstructing a public servant from performing duty), 353 (assault on public servant), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 342 (wrongful restrain), 506 (2) (criminal intimidation) and 34 (common intention) has been filed on the basis of his complaint. MLA Amanatullah Khan has been named in the FIR.
Denying the charges, AAP said the meeting was not about television advertisements but about non-disbursal of ration. “About 2.5 lakh families were deprived of rations last month due to faulty implementation of Aadhaar. MLAs were under tremendous pressure from public. There was a meeting of MLAs at CM’s residence. CS refused to answer questions, saying that he was not answerable to MLAs and CM, and that he was answerable only to LG. He even used bad language against some MLAs and left without answering any questions… It is a false information that the meeting and the argument was about TV ads. The entire discussion was on how a large number of families were not getting ration… he is making such ludicrous allegations,” the party said in a statement.
“There is no truth to the allegations made by the chief secretary. It is obvious that things will get a little heated in a meeting where non-disbursal of ration is being discussed. But the kind of allegations that the chief secretary is making are baseless,” said Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.
In emails to Delhi Police Commissioner, AAP MLAs Prakash Jarwal and Ajay Dutt, who were present at the meeting, have alleged that when they asked Prakash about the complaints regarding ration disbursal, he used “casteist” remarks against them, said he was not answerable to them, and left the room. Both have demanded that an FIR be lodged against the chief secretary against the SC/ST Act. The police are probing the matter.
Protesting against the alleged assault on Prakash, Delhi Secretariat staff, reportedly from the Delhi Association for Subordinate Services, gathered on the second floor of the Secretariat building, where they allegedly heckled and assaulted Environment Minister Imran Hussain, his personal secretary Himanshu, and senior AAP leader Ashish Khetan.
“There was no violence. The protesting staff were shouting slogans against the AAP government. The allegations of violence are an attempt to cover up how they behaved with the CS,” said Deepak Bharadwaj, secretary of the Delhi Administrative Subordinate Services (DASS) Association. A purported video clip of the protest, however, showed Imran Hussain and Himanshu being assaulted by the crowd. The alleged attack took place a little after noon, and by 3 pm, the protesters had scattered across the Secretariat.
Meanwhile, following the chief secretary’s allegations, IAS officers met Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal on Tuesday and demanded action against AAP MLAs. “For past few years, the bureaucracy has been insulted and humiliated… statements have been given against them in public to humiliate them. But if they will insult our top officers, we will not tolerate it. The way this meeting was called, it looked like a planned operation to insult us,” said Manisha Sinha, secretary of the IAS association, after the hour-long meeting.
The officers gathered at the Delhi Secretariat in the afternoon and later went to Rajghat, where they held a candlelight march.
Prakash and members of the IAS, DANICS & Subordinate Services of the Delhi government also met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. “I am deeply pained by the happenings involving the Chief Secretary of the Delhi Government. The civil servants should be allowed to work with dignity and without fear… The MHA has sought a report on the incident from the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi. Justice will be done. A delegation of IAS DANICS & Subordinate Services of Delhi Government met me today and apprised me of the prevailing situation,” Singh tweeted after the meeting.