When Delhi Women and Child Welfare Minister Rakhi Birla tried to force the police to break down the door of some suspects’ house last week, it was not just another case of a woman being allegedly set ablaze by her in-laws. The victim was AAP MLA Surender Singh’s landlady for about six months before the Delhi Assembly elections.
In fact, it was Singh and AAP volunteers who called Birla to Sagarpur so that “justice would be done”.
Gaurav Tiwari, who was Singh’s campaign manager, confirmed that they had used the victim’s house as their base in the run-up to the polls. The rent agreement was made in his name.
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“We were looking for accommodation and we came across this woman’s house. While the victim lived on the third floor, the other two floors were vacant. We took the two floors for a monthly rent of Rs 15,000. Her in-laws lived in the house next to hers. She said her in-laws were threatening her. She knew that after we rented the place, people would be present at the house always, keeping her safe,” he said.
When Singh left the Sagarpur house in the first week of January, the threats to the victim reportedly increased.
“Many of the AAP volunteers left for their homes after the elections, and the MLA had to move out. A day after he left, the accused removed the gate from outside the victim’s house. The AAP volunteers went to the Sagarpur SHO but no action was taken,” said a party worker.
On January 13, when they were informed that the victim had been set on fire, Singh was reportedly the first to reach the house.
“The police took away five people, but arrested only one of them. The next day, the other four returned home as if nothing had happened. This angered us, as the victim had helped us when we had no place to stay before the elections,” said Singh.
They then asked both Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Birla to take up the issue. “Rakhiji agreed to come. It was then that the confrontation with the police happened,” said Tiwari.
On the first day of Kejriwal’s dharna, the victim’s father thanked the party for its help.