Kejriwal backs Somnath Bharti, seeks action against police officers

Forty-eight hours after a vigilante mob, led by Delhi Law Minister and Aam Aadmi Party leader Somnath Bharti, marched against African women living in the Capital’s Khirki Extension, charging them with prostitution and drug peddling, the police said they found no criminal evidence against suspects they held under the politician’s pressure.

“The drug tests that we got conducted on the suspects the Minister asked to detain have shown no evidence of narcotics use,” a police officer told The Hindu.

Four women – two Ugandan and two Nigerian – going home in a taxi were allegedly surrounded by the mob late on Wednesday night, of whom two were forced to give urine samples in public. African residents of Khrikhi Extension also alleged that the mob forced their way into their homes, passing racist remarks and manhandling them.

Four complaints by Africans in this connection, including by the one Ugandan national who was forced to take a test, have been received at the local Malviya Nagar police station, confirmed a senior police officer.

Reacting sharply to the developments, the I&B Minister Manish Tewari on Friday tweeted that the Indo-African relationship was rooted in the struggle against colonialism and racism and that the treatment meted out to African women by the AAP was reprehensible and obtuse.

Aam Aadmi Party media coordinator Deepak Vajpayee, however, denied party cadre had made racist remarks, and described the allegations as “baseless.”

Local residents disputed the claim. One of the victims told The Hindu “some men barged inside my house and asked me to show my passport and called me names saying that I am a black and I sell drugs here. They asked me to get out of Khirki Extension as soon as possible”.

“When I took my phone to call the police, one of the men snatched my phone and threw it away. He said how dare you call the policemen of my country for your protection,” added the woman.

“We face all kinds of racist slurs here,” she said, “but Wednesday night was just too much for us to handle.”

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal backed his Law Minister and met Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung, seeking action against three police officers for failing to comply with Mr. Bharti’s instructions. Mr. Kejriwal also met Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and sought control over the force.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Bharat Singh Jhakad reportedly told Mr. Bharti that he could not break into homes without a warrant.

In a related development, Mr. Najeeb Jung ordered a high-level inquiry by a retired judge into the cases raised by Mr. Kejriwal.

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