L-G questions CM’s silence on Maliwal case; you were mum on women wrestlers’ protest: AAP

Maliwal called me on Monday out of sheer anguish, says L-G, adds the case will be brought to its ‘logical conclusion’; Saxena’s statement shows she is working at BJP’s behest: AAP; police take CM aide Bibhav Kumar, arrested for assaulting RS MP, to Mumbai to retrieve data deleted from his phone

Updated - May 22, 2024 07:00 am IST

Published - May 22, 2024 01:26 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Delhi Lieutenant-Governor V.K. Saxena 

Delhi Lieutenant-Governor V.K. Saxena  | Photo Credit: File Photo

Lieutenant-Governor V.K. Saxena on Tuesday issued a statement on X criticising Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for his “deafening silence” over the alleged assault on Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) Rajya Sabha member Swati Maliwal. Mr. Saxena said the Chief Minister’s “dodgy” and “evasive” attitude towards the issue “speaks volumes of his stance on the safety of women”. AAP hit back, saying the L-G’s statement proved that “Maliwal is working at the behest of BJP”.

In her complaint to the police, based on which an FIR was registered, Ms. Maliwal alleged that she had gone to meet the Chief Minister at his residence on May 13, where she was slapped, kicked, and dragged by Mr. Kejriwal’s personal assistant Bibhav Kumar. Mr. Kumar subsequently filed a police complaint on May 17, claiming the Rajya Sabha member had “forcefully and illegally” trespassed into the CM House on May 13, created “ruckus”, and “falsely implicated” him. On May 18, Mr. Kumar was arrested and remanded in police custody for five days.

On Tuesday, the police took Mr. Kumar to Mumbai to retrieve data allegedly deleted from his phone a day before his arrest. Mr. Kumar’s location was traced to Mumbai a day before his arrest, and his phone was formatted there, a senior officer said.

“Before formatting his phone, Kumar transferred data to someone. We are trying to retrieve that data,” the officer added.

A day earlier, the police had taken Mr. Kejriwal’s aide to the CM House to recreate the scene where the alleged assault took place and corroborate his version of the incident. The police had earlier seized a digital video recorder from CM House.

‘Shamed by colleagues’

The L-G said Ms. Maliwal had called him on Monday “out of sheer anguish” and described at length her “traumatic experience” as well as the “subsequent intimidation” and “shaming” by her party colleagues. He added that the police are investigating the matter and that it will be brought to its “logical conclusion”. He also called out AAP for its “U-turn” on the matter by first admitting that Mr. Kumar had “misbehaved” with Ms. Maliwal and then claiming that the BJP had orchestrated the entire case to defame the party and that Ms. Maliwal was a “pawn” in this conspiracy.

AAP hits back

In a post in Hindi on X, senior AAP leader and Health Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj asked the L-G why he did not order an FIR against former Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president and BJP leader Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh when several women wrestlers, including Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik, held a protest in Delhi last year seeking action against Mr. Singh for sexually assaulting them.

The wrestlers sat on a 35-day-long protest, starting on April 23, 2023 at Jantar Mantar seeking action against Mr. Singh. Delhi Police registered the FIR on April 28 on the orders of the Supreme Court.

“Why did Delhi Police, which reports to you, not file the FIR? The police, in fact, beat up the wrestlers mercilessly in the middle of the night. The same night, Swati Maliwal was also dragged by the police. What action did you take,” Mr. Bharadwaj asked.

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