Pressure mounted on Wednesday for removal of Law Minister Somnath Bharti after one of the African women assaulted in a midnight raid in south Delhi accused him of having led the group that barged into her house and attacked them.
“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 Mr. 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 had recorded her statement before a magistrate yesterday, saying that she would be able to identify the persons who had barged into her house on the intervening night of January 15-16.
The woman recorded her statement in camera under Sec 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.
Mr. Bharti came under attack for the midnight raid from women activists who sought his removal from the post for “misbehaving” with the African women.
Delhi Commission of Women summons Bharti
Delhi Commission for Women summoned Mr. 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 but he did not show up. We will be sending another summon through the concerned SHO to him tomorrow. If he still does not appear, we shall write to the Lt. Governor and to the Delhi Police Commissioner to register an FIR,” Barkha Singh, chairperson of the commission, said.
Activists write to Kejriwal
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”.
Ms. Krishnan alleged that the “simple point is that he has 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 Mr. Bharti was present there at the spot as it has been confirmed by the Ugandan women after identifying him in the CD.
Ms. Sharma said Mr. Bharti “should have resigned or should have been asked to resign. He has no right to go to a woman’s place and do this harkat (create a stir). He should have resigned on his own”.
The activists said, “Delhi Police must be accountable to the Constitution and not to the bidding of Ministers and mobs.”
“These Ugandan women have alleged that they were beaten and groped sexually. On what basis do you deem these allegations to be false? Is it the government’s contention that only ‘ma, behen, beti’ are entitled to safety and dignity — and that prostitutes can be left to the mercy of moralistic mobs?
“Without any other evidence, can women be forced to undergo drug tests only because of their race and nationality? The drug tests and cavity searches to which these women were subjected, turned up negative: when do you plan to apologise to them for the false allegation and the indignity, not to mention the groping they suffered at the hands of your minister’s supporters?,” the letter said.
“According to the Africans and their Indian friends, the Malviya Nagar SHO Vijay Pal had acted to protect the African women on the night of the raid. Today, this SHO has been penalised — for failing to obey the orders of the minister who expected him to indiscriminately raid the homes of all people of African nationalities,” the letter said.
The activists further said this sends out a dangerous message to the police — that if they uphold democratic rights of vulnerable individuals as mandated by the Constitution, they will be penalised.
Accusing that attempts were being made to shield Mr. Bharti, AAP rebel MLA Vinod Binny said action must be taken against those misbehaved with the women.
Transport Minister Saurabh Bhardwaj defended his colleagues and said every citizen including a minister had a right to tell the police to raid a place if there was a drug or prostitution ring.
Mr. Bharti had claimed that the raid had been conducted after he received information about a prostitution and drugs racket in the area.
Police has listed the Ugandan national as a prosecution witness in the case. She will again testify in court during the trial over the alleged incident.
The court had ordered registration of an FIR upon a petition filed by the woman in question seeking a criminal case against the alleged offenders.
A city court had ordered registration of an FIR against unknown persons in connection with the midnight raid against African women at Khirki Extension in Delhi.