AAP under pressure as Somnath Bharti identified by Ugandan woman
Arvind Kejriwal is under mounting pressure from women groups to remove Bharti as the Delhi law minister
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New Delhi: Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday faced mounting demands for the removal of controversial law minister Somnath Bharti after an Ugandan woman identified him as allegedly heading a group of assaulters in a midnight raid at Khirki Extension.
The AAP government and the ruling party came under an avalanche of attack from rivals and women’s activists who said the chief minister had staged a two-day dharna in the name of women’s safety but was following “double standards” on the issue of the minister.
The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) has summoned Bharti to depose before it over allegations of manhandling of the women.
“We were attacked on Wednesday night by Indians who were led by Somnath Bharti...we were harassed, we were beaten, they were having long sticks. They said we should leave their country or else they would kill us one by one,” the Ugandan national said.
The woman said she identified Bharti because “he came in the night and the next day I saw him on television. The Delhi police came in time and saved us from the mob.” She recorded her statement before a magistrate on Tuesday, saying that she would be able to identify the persons who had barged into her house on the intervening night of 15-16 January. The woman recorded her statement in camera under Section 164 CrPC which is admissible in court.
The statement has been now given to police in a sealed cover and will be opened only during the trial. Bharti came under attack for the midnight raid from women activists who sought his removal from the post for “misbehaving” with the women.
Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) summoned Bharti after the women alleged that they had been assaulted by the group led by the minister. “We had asked him to appear before the commission yesterday (on Tuesday) but he did not show up. We will be sending another summon through the concerned SHO to him tomorrow (Thursday). If he still does not appear, we shall write to the lieutenant governor and to the Delhi police commissioner to register an FIR,” Barkha Singh, chairperson of the commission, said.
In an open letter to the Delhi chief minister, a group of women activists including Kavita Krishnan said the conduct of the law minister was “shocking and is not acceptable”. Krishnan alleged that the “simple point is that he endangered those African women by calling upon a mob to go chase them and catch them”.
NCW chairperson Mamta Sharma said now it is clear that Bharti’s presence at the spot has been confirmed by the Ugandan women who identified him in the CD.