Leading a group of an estimated 150 cadre from his Aam Aadmi Party, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal defied prohibitory orders on Monday to launch an unprecedented protest outside Parliament House, demanding executive control of the Delhi Police and the transfer of police personnel his government says defied orders from Ministers.
“Some people say that I am an anarchist and that I am spreading disorder,” Mr. Kejriwal said, as police cordoned off large swathes of central Delhi, leading to girdlocked traffic in central Delhi. “I agree that I am an anarchist. Today, I will create anarchy for Mr. Shinde.”
Mr. Kejriwal charged Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde with corruption, and called on police personnel to shed their uniforms and join his protest.
A visibly-angry Mr. Kejriwal also said his party would not be responsible for any disruption to the upcoming Republic Day parade, the route for which passes just metres from the protest site. He also said his party would “teach a lesson” to the Congress, which supports the AAP government in Delhi, in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Mr. Kejriwal’s protests come days after Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti controversially led a vigilante group which forcibly detained four Ugandan and Nigerian women, alleging they were involved in prostitution and drug trafficking. The Delhi Chief Minister also accused the police of mishandling a gang-rape of a 51-year-old Danish tourist early last week.
Delhi Police officials defied Mr. Bharti’s orders to raid premises involved in the alleged rackets. Later, forensic tests cleared the forcibly-detained women of narcotics use.
Even as chaos mounted in central Delhi, Mr. Kejriwal did not give a timeline for the protests, but said he had come prepared to continue the sit-in for “up to ten days.”
The Union Home Ministry has said it will expedite a probe into the conduct of the police officers, but an FIR and been registered against unknown perpetrators involved in the vigilante action. Mr. Shinde dismissed Mr. Kejriwal’s demands, and asked the chief minister to await the findings of a judicial inquiry ordered by the Lieutenant-Governor.
The AAP has met with growing criticism in recent days, with video surfacing of senior party leader and prospective Lok Sabha candidate from Amethi, Kumar Vishwas, saying: “Earlier nurses used to come from Kerala, kali-peeli (dark skinned), one would naturally feel like calling them sister.”
Tussle for police control
Mr. Kejriwal’s party has also been demanding that the Congress cede control of the Delhi Police, now under the Union Home Ministry, to the Delhi Government — a long-standing demand both Chief Ministers Sheila Dikshit and Madan Lal Khurana had unsuccessfully pressed earlier. The demand was rejected by both Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party-led governments at the centre.
“We are the elected government of Delhi,” Mr. Kejriwal told reporters on Sunday. “We are accountable to people of Delhi. When a crime against woman happens Delhi’s public comes to us asking for their protection. They do not go to Mr. Shinde.”
Mr. Kejriwal also defended the conduct of his Ministers, saying the Delhi Police had “failed to check drug and sex rackets.”