Updated: March 31, 2022 11:35:05 am
THE WAR of words in Delhi over Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal remarks on the film, The Kashmir Files, led to dramatic scenes outside his residence on Wednesday when nearly 200 protesters from the opposition BJP’s youth wing, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), broke through police barricades and slammed the main gate, prompting AAP to accuse them of “trying to kill” the CM.
BJYM national president and Lok Sabha MP Tejaswi Surya led the protesters, many of whom were captured on CCTV breaking the boom barrier, and kicking and banging the main gate before throwing red paint on it. DCP (North) Sagar Singh Kalsi said a CCTV camera was also damaged.
Delhi Police have registered an FIR against “unidentified persons”, and teams have been formed to nab the accused, Kalsi said. Late Wednesday night, five men were arrested from across Delhi in connection with the vandalism.
Kejriwal was not at home, but his family members were present during the protest, AAP leaders said.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said: “The BJP failed to stop Kejriwalji and failed to defeat him, so they want to eliminate him. They are trying to kill him…The attack was a planned conspiracy to kill him, the country will not tolerate this…This is criminal, not political…After their defeat in Punjab, they (BJP) are rattled.”
Best of Express Premium
माननीय मुख्यमंत्री @arvindkejriwal जी के आवास पर भाजपा के गुंडों द्वारा करा गया हमला बेहद निंदनीय है. पुलिस की मौजूदगी में इन गुंडों ने बैरिकेड तोड़े, सीसीटीवी कैमरा तोड़े. पंजाब की हार की बौखलाहट में भाजपा वाले इतनी घटिया राजनीति पर उतर गए. pic.twitter.com/ewzhqQgYyU
— Raghav Chadha (@raghav_chadha) March 30, 2022
The BJYM had organised the protest as a march from IP College to Kejriwal’s residence against his remarks on making ‘The Kashmir Files’ tax-free in Delhi.
Speaking in the Assembly on March 24, the Chief Minister had said that while BJP workers were promoting the movie and the filmmakers had made crores off it, the suffering of Kashmiri Pandits on which it is based had been exploited. He also referred to the film as “jhooti (false)”, which was portrayed by the BJP as an “insult” to the Kashmiri Pandit community.
Released on March 11, ‘The Kashmir Files’ has been running to packed halls even as it has been criticised for presenting a one-sided narrative of events. The movie has been endorsed by a number of Union Ministers and granted tax-free status by almost all BJP-ruled states, with some even granting leave to government employees to watch it.
Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the movie had rattled the “entire ecosystem” that claims to be the torchbearer of freedom of expression but does not want the truth to be told.
While the BJP has been protesting against Kejriwal for the past week, this is the first time that Bengaluru MP Surya has joined the protest. At a press conference in the BJP headquarters later, Surya said: “We staged a demonstration outside Kejriwal’s residence against his comments, which sought to belittle the pain of the Kashmiri Pandit community and hurt the sentiments of the entire Hindu community…Our protests will continue till he tenders an unconditional apology for this.”
Responding to Sisodia’s allegations, Delhi BJP spokesperson Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga said: “If opposing the humiliation of Kashmiri Hindus is termed to be anti-social, then we are anti-social. If asking for an apology on Kejriwal’s statement on the genocide of Kashmiri Hindus is equivalent to being anti-social, then yes, we are anti-social elements.”
During the protest, CCTV footage showed a security official trying to stop the crowd but getting outnumbered. Surya is visible in the clip but not seen participating in the vandalism.
“They were very aggressive and tried to break the entrance gate and enter the premises but were stopped. They tried to manhandle us but by then the police intervened and our security commandos stopped them. They also tried to throw paint on us and police officers,” said a member of the Chief Minister’s staff.
Detailing the sequence of events, DCP Kalsi said: “Today 11.30 am onwards, a dharna was started by around 150-200 protestors of BJYM outside the CM’s residence…Around 1 pm, some of the protesters breached two barricades and reached outside CM’s house where they created a ruckus, shouted slogans.”
Kalsi said: “They were carrying a small box of paint from which they threw paint at the door. In the imbroglio, a boom barrier arm was also found vandalised as also a CCTV camera. The police team immediately removed them from the spot and detained around 70 persons. Legal action is being initiated.”
The DCP said Sisodia’s charge against the police was “not true”. “Strong arrangements were set up against the protesters. However, some 15-20 protesters managed to reach Flag Staff road and were immediately removed,” he said.
CCTV cameras outside Delhi’s CM House were damaged during a BJP protest in December 2020 as well.
🗞 Subscribe Now: Get Express Premium to access our in-depth reporting, explainers and opinions 🗞️
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.