The Delhi Police conducted searches at Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence Friday for CCTV footage of a meeting on February 19 when two AAP MLAs allegedly assaulted Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash during a late night meeting.
The search closely follows the arrests of the two MLAs – Amanatullah Khan and Prakash Jarwal – two days ago and drew sharp criticism from the AAP and Kejriwal. Both MLAs were denied bail Friday and sent to judicial custody.
The search was ordered after police failed to recover CCTV footage from Kejriwal’s residence from the Public Works Department (PWD). After the search, police said no cameras were installed in the room where the alleged incident occurred took place and that seven of the 21 CCTV cameras installed at the house were dysfunctional.
“We will now scan the footage recorded by cameras installed outside the drawing room and in the corridor. We will try to understand the movement of people before and after the incident,” a senior police officer said. He also said that police would probe why seven cameras were not functional.
Immediately after the police began the search, Kejriwal tweeted, “A huge posse of policemen was sent to my residence. The entire CM’s residence is being searched over allegations of ‘two slaps’. But when will Amit Shah be questioned in connection with Judge Loya’s death.”
Earlier this week, Chief Secretary Prakash had filed an FIR against the two AAP MLAs and alleged they assaulted him at Kejriwal’s residence. The incident triggered a crisis in the Delhi government after bureaucrats refused to attend meetings with ministers.
Hours after the search was conducted, Kejriwal and his council of ministers met Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal over the crisis. Deputy CM Manish Sisodia after the meeting said Baijal had assured them that he would speak to bureaucrats and ensure that the Delhi government’s work is not impacted.
“We are grateful that the LG is looking at the issue from the perspective of Delhi’s governance. He has assured us that he will speak to officials to ensure that work is not affected and they (bureaucrats) work with the ministers,” said Sisodia.
On Friday morning, at least 90 police personnel from all police stations of North district gathered at the Civil Lines police station before the search was conducted. A forensic team was also present during the search, so evidence could be collected in a “certified and professional way”.
“A search operation was conducted as we had asked them for the hard disk and footage on February 19. But we did not get any response, and we thought that it was important for us to seize the material on our own. We have found that the time of cameras at the Chief Minister’s residence was running behind by 40.43 minutes,” said Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (North) Harendra Singh.
Delhi government spokesperson Arunoday Prakash alleged that 60-70 policemen had entered Kejriwal’s office “without any intimation”. AAP spokesperson Ashutosh showed a clip of senior police officers purportedly asking about when the CM’s residence was painted and said, “What does the investigation have to do with paint. This is nothing but an attempt to humiliate the CM.”
AAP Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh said, “We are completely of the opinion that the police should investigate this matter. But they are not investigating the assault on our minister inside the secretariat. This is nothing but hooliganism and bullying by the Delhi Police. It is happening with the AAP today, tomorrow it will happen in each household.”