Congress leader Shinde plays cop again, this time to probe a clash between strongmen in own party

Haryana Congress president Ashok Tanwar was assaulted, allegedly by former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s supporters.

Written by Manoj C G | New Delhi | Published:October 23, 2016 4:49 am
Sushil Kumar Shinde Sushil Kumar Shinde

Reliving his days as a Police Sub-Inspector, senior Congress leader Sushil Kumar Shinde is busy examining X-ray, MRI films and other medical reports, scanning video as well as photographic “evidence”, and listening to claims and counter-claims to find out the truth about an assault.

On the day Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi wrapped up his recent kisan yatra with a rally in New Delhi, Haryana Congress president Ashok Tanwar was assaulted, allegedly by former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s supporters. Shinde has been appointed by the party to probe the incident.

Tanwar and his supporters, who were also reportedly injured in the clash, have handed over photographs and video clips, as well as their medical records. At a two-day hearing at the AICC headquarters on October 17-18, Tanwar walked in wearing a cervical collar while his supporters were seen with bandages.

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Sources said the photographs handed over to Shinde show stick-wielding personal security officers of Hooda and his two nephews.

According to sources, the Hooda camp, on the other hand, told Shinde that there was serious provocation from Tanwar’s supporters. They alleged that Tanwar’s supporters prevented them from putting up hoardings, and Tanwar even scaled the barricades and walked towards them. They claimed that Tanwar was seen asking his men to pull down the hoardings.

But Tanwar told Shinde that he jumped the barricades to prevent a clash, which would have derailed the programme. The Hooda camp also alleged that Tanwar was exaggerating the incident, as well as his injuries.

Shinde told The Sunday Express that he met nearly 350 people during the hearing, and would soon submit his report. “I have to take the statements of two more people who are out of the country. After taking their statements, I will file a report at the earliest,” he said.

Deepening the rift within the Haryana Congress, 12 of the 15 party MLAs told Shinde that it would not be possible for them to function under Tanwar as state Congress chief and Kiran Choudhary as the Congress Legislature Party leader. They alleged that Choudhary tried to escalate the situation after the clash, and argued that the atmosphere was vitiated now.

Interestingly, although the ambit of the probe is limited to the Congress, there was mention of non-Congress workers as well. While the PSOs of Hooda and his nephews were mentioned, sources said Tanwar told Shinde that his opponents also used their influence on some doctors at RML Hospital to deny them proper treatment, and put pressure on the Delhi Police to ensure that no FIR was registered in connection with the incident. An assistant professor at RML Hospital was named in this connection.

In fact, Tanwar even planned to stage a protest outside the police headquarters, but dropped the idea, reportedly following intervention by the top leadership.

When contacted, Tanwar said he has complete faith in Rahul Gandhi. He said Shinde listened to each person who was affected, and expressed confidence that justice would be done.