In a scathing indictment of his party’s controversial law minister in Delhi, Aam Aadmi Party member and Air Deccan founder Captain G R Gopinath has said that if AAP wants four police officers suspended pending an inquiry on the ground that they may interfere with the investigation, the same should apply for its “rabid and reckless” Law Minister Somnath Bharti.
“Asking four cops to be suspended on the pretext that those being investigated can interfere with fair investigation if they continue in office will apply to Somnath also as he’s also accused in the present fracas during the raid on foreign nationals. So to be just, both must be suspended,” Gopinath said in an e-mail response to queries from The Indian Express.
“This is independent of the demand for his resignation following the high court indictment in another case. What is good for the goose must be good for the gander,” he said.
Gopinath said this was his personal view and was being aired because AAP chief and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal had said party members were entitled to their opinion.
Former banker and another new AAP member, Meera Sanyal, did not respond to a similar email.
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Santosh Hegde, a former India Against Corruption core committee member and former Karnataka Lok Ayukta, condemned Kejriwal’s act of violating prohibitory orders, which he said had been made worse by the fact that he is the chief minister and he has been inciting others to do so too.
“What sort of government is this? The chief minister violates prohibitory orders and encourages others to do so. Under the Indian constitution the law minister, if he has information, can pass it on to the police and if they refuse to act he can approach senior police officers or the court. He does not do either, forcibly enters a property, which amounts to trespassing and then illegally detains people,” an agitated Hegde said.
Asked if he thought Bharti should resign, he said that was his party’s call. He also took offence to Kejriwal’s statement that if his demands were not met he would fill Rajpath with lakhs of people by Republic Day. “You can’t act like you are the only patriot left in the country. Republic Day is not just about VVIPs. It is celebrated across the country. Nobody should allow power to go into their heads,” he added, saying that he would never have wanted to be a part of the illegalities his former colleagues had committed over the last two days.
Gopinath said Kejriwal, in his insistence that Delhi Police should be made answerable to the Delhi government, was missing the woods for the trees because police should not ideally be under any government be it that at the Centre or in the states.
The need of the hour is implementation of police reforms and while his party could take up the mantle of protest, the CM should govern.
“AAP as a political party can and must protest. Not the CM. He and his cabinet must govern from their office as there’s a danger of being looked upon as a rabble rouser which is against the spirit of the constitution and also the party’s political goodwill, which it will be imprudent to fritter away,” Gopinath said.
Women’s groups want action against Bharti
In an open letter to Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, women’s groups urged him to take immediate action against law minister Somnath Bharti for endangering African women in Malviya Nagar and instigating the crowd to violate human rights. They said demand for action against the local SHO should be dropped as he had upheld rights of those women.
Criticising it as the “harassment and racial profiling of Ugandan and Nigerian women” by a group led by the minister, a host of groups said while measures to protect women are essential, penalising officers who uphold rule of law is not the way forward.
They groups have also asked for a meeting with the chief minister. ENS