A press conference by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was disrupted on Thursday by Congress MLA from Okhla Asif Mohammed Khan demanding appointment of a Special Investigation Team to probe the 2008 Batla House encounter.
Mr. Asif barged into the conference hall at Delhi Secretariat minutes after Mr. Kejriwal, in reply to a question, refused to form a SIT to investigate the encounter stating that the court had already given its verdict in the case and his government respected the judicial process.
“A court has already given its verdict in the case and we respect the court order. We are not appointing any SIT into the case,” Mr. Kejriwal told reporters. While Mr. Kejriwal and his party leaders have on several occasions in the past demanded an inquiry into the case, Mr. Kejriwal said the issue was not included into the party manifesto, unlike the 1984 riots case.
The Delhi Government had on Wednesday decided to order a probe by a SIT into the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, two days after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said during an interview that some of the party men were probably involved in the violence.
Minutes after Mr. Kejriwal made his point, Mr. Asif, barged into the venue of the press conference and raised slogans stating that “Mr. Kejriwal is speaking a bundle of lies”. The Chief Minister's security soon moved in and whisked the protesting legislator away.
Mr. Asif alleged that the Chief Minister was now changing his version as his party had earlier been demanding an independent inquiry into the case ahead of the Assembly elections. “The AAP candidate distributed handbills during the campaign demanding an inquiry because the encounter was fake. Now Mr. Kejriwal is going back on his words,” Mr. Asif said.
Claiming he has raised the issue on several occasions in his own party, Mr. Asif said if the Delhi Government does not order a SIT probe, he would even go against the party and vote against the AAP Government, whenever a “financial Bill is brought in the Assembly to bring down this government”.
The Delhi Congress chief, however, refused to comment on the issue saying “he would speak over it only after getting the perspective of Mr. Asif.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) later condemned the action of Mr. Asif terming it as “totally unbecoming of an elected representative”.
“This encounter had taken place on September 19, 2008, when there were Congress governments in Delhi as well as at the Centre. The AAP had not come into existence till then, but it was noted lawyer and human rights activist Prashant Bhushan (now a national executive member of the AAP) who had filed a petition in the Delhi High Court seeking an independent investigation into this encounter. The High Court asked the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to look into the matter,” the party said in a statement.
“The NHRC accepted the probe report of the Delhi Police Crime Branch. This was again challenged by Mr. Bhushan in the Supreme Court. A three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court, headed by the then Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan dismissed the petition seeking an independent judicial inquiry into the encounter. The Supreme Court ruled that no further probes were required in this matter,” the statement added.