April 23 campaign roundup: AAP leader Somnath Bharti thrashed by alleged BJP supporters in Varanasi
AAP leader Somnath Bharti and his supporters were allegedly assaulted by “Modi supporters” at Assi Ghat in Bhelupur area of Varanasi on Wednesday. Bharti, who was the law minister when the AAP was in power in New Delhi, did not lodge a police complaint and said he had forgiven the attackers.
According to the police, the incident took place when Bharti was taking part in a TV programme being recorded at Assi Ghat. “Bharti was a guest on the show. There was no permission for the programme. There was some sloganeering, which led to a scuffle between BJP supporters and AAP supporters. Bharti’s vehicle was damaged in the stone pelting. However, nobody was seriously hurt. Bharti has not pressed any formal charges. But since the programme was being conducted without permission, an FIR in this regard is being lodged for alleged violation of Section 144 of the CrPC,” Station Officer (Bhelupur) Vinay Kumar Singh said.
In a statement, the AAP claimed that one of its supporters shouted the slogan, “Abhi toh Sheila haari hai, ab Modi ki baari hai (Sheila has lost, now it’s Modi’s turn)”, during the TV programme. Enraged by this, Modi supporters attacked AAP supporters, the statement said.
When Bharti tried to intervene, he too was allegedly attacked. When he managed to get inside his vehicle, stones were pelted at it, an AAP spokesperson said. The driver then drove to the police station.
AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal said it appeared the attackers were from outside Varanasi because this was not the city’s culture.
BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said the party has never endorsed violence.