New Delhi: Surrounded by police, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday took to the streets in central Delhi to protest against alleged non-cooperation by officers of the Delhi Police and to demand safety measures for women.
Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led government is demanding action against policemen who allegedly refused to cooperate with Delhi’s law minister Somnath Bharti during a raid last week on a suspected drug and prostitution racket in a South Delhi neighbourhood.
“It is important to understand why the chief minister of Delhi had to come down to protest. We are not doing it for our sake. In Delhi, police takes money from auto- wallahs. Today we are standing here for them. In Delhi, the police takes money from street vendors. Today we are standing here for them,” Kejriwal told reporters and party supporters near Rail Bhawan in central Delhi.
Police threw a cordon around the site of the protest, which is only metres away from the thoroughfare that is used for the annual Republic Day parade on 26 January.
Kejriwal’s remarks were seen as a bid to appeal to his party’s main vote-base—the capital’s lower middle class and daily wage earners.
The party wanted to protest outside the nearby offices of the Union home ministry, which is responsible for Delhi Police. But Kejriwal’s car was not allowed beyond Rail Bhawan.
“Some people say I am an anarchist...I agree I am an anarchist. There is disorder everywhere, inflation is hurting everyone; now we want disorder in the house of the home minister,” he said.
Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde has said that an enquiry has been set up by Delhi’s Lieutenant General (LG) into Thursday night’s police raid.
“LG has asked for a judicial enquiry and it is a big step. Responsibility will be fixed independently without any outside influence,” Shinde told reporters.
However, Kejriwal, who wants immediate action to be taken against the allegedly guilty policemen, said he is ready to sit in agitation for the next 10 days.
“Women (in Delhi) keep on getting raped. Police says investigation is on but that is not enough. If a rape happens, someone has to be held accountable,” he said.
For security reasons, four metro stations—Jor Bagh, Central Secretariat, Udyog Bhawan and Patel Chowk—were shut. These metro stations serve areas with scores of government offices, and authorities fear the stir is likely to cause inconvenience to commuters.
“This is most unfortunate and unprecedented. He should not forget that he formed the government on the basis of the common man. Four metro stations have been shut and lakhs of people have been inconvenienced,” Harsh Vardhan, leader of main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) told reporters.