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Our CM is unsafe

Despite nine attacks on Arvind Kejriwal, his security has not been beefed up. Nobody in Delhi Police can locate the case file, which must be lying in cupboard tied in red tape

Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) National Convenor Arvind Kejriwal feels unsafe. And there are reasons for it. Nine times he has been assaulted or attacked— he has been slapped, red chilli smeared on his face, ink thrown at him. Any of these incidents could have easily turned ugly.

What comes across clearly is that it’s so easy to attack the Chief Minister of Delhi. Any disgruntled man or  woman can walk up to him and make him a target. Kejriwal, not surprisingly, feels that the BJP might get him killed, as his Personal Security Officer (PSO) reports to the BJP-led central government. “They may get me assassinated one day through my PSO, like Indira Gandhi,” he said.

Most of the attacks took place in Delhi, but on one occasion he was attacked in Varanasi on the 2014 campaign trail against Narendra Modi. In most of these cases, Kejriwal was keen to ascertain the cause of anguish that led to the assault in the first place. He got the charges dropped against his aggressors and they were set free, except in two cases.

Soon after he took over as Delhi CM in 2015, he was slapped by an auto-driver, Lali, leaving him with a swollen eye. Kejriwal said, “I forgive him” and visited him. Lali repented, called Kejriwal, ‘God.’ Lali has shifted base, and is not to be found. He had acquired a bit of celebrity status. The slap turned out to be an unknown citizen’s passport to fame!

This may seem like a trivial episode, but if any of these attackers had a firearm or even a knife, it could have led to disastrous consequences. In the Capital of India, which has the dubious distinction of being unsafe to women, even the Chief Minister with his security setup feels insecure. When he steps out of the house, he has this lingering feeling that he’s not safe and something amiss might happen anytime.

Patriot decided to figure out his security arrangement and how the cases of assault against him are investigated.

The office of the Special Commissioner, Security, Delhi Police, provides the peripheral security to the prime minister and ensures security to ministers, judges and other senior functionaries depending on their entitlement and risk perception. Delhi Police is quiet about the specifics of the security provided, its category, the number of persons deployed and other such details. It’s not to be made public. Therefore, no one goes on record to the media.

A senior functionary in the security department of Delhi Police explained in detail that the risk perception is accessed by the intelligence agencies and details of it get communicated to them by the Union Home Ministry. On the basis of the recommendation of the Home Ministry, security arrangements are fixed.

The senior officer confirmed that Kejriwal gets the same security as his predecessor Sheila Dikshit, as per the protocol and risk perception. He confirmed that the security cover has not been beefed up or changed since these repeated attacks, any one of which could have easily turned ugly. And they can’t do much about it as they are governed in this matter by the home ministry.

Therefore, it would be safe to conclude that the Home Ministry feels that there’s no need to beef up the security of Kejriwal despite these repeated attacks.

As stated earlier, in most cases Kejriwal didn’t press for charges against those who assaulted him. There is, however, one attack that happened on November 20, when Anil Kumar Sharma, 40, walked into the secretariat on the plea of seeking help. He stood outside the chief minister’s office and when Kejriwal stepped out, he touched his feet and then smeared red chilli powder on his face.

The man was booked under various stringent sections of the IPC: 186 (obstructing public servant); 353 (assault); 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant) and 506 (criminal intimidation). A parallel investigation by IB and Delhi Police was constituted, informed Amit Sharma, Additional DCP (Central). Last heard, Sharma was denied bail and sent to 14 days of judicial custody by Metropolitan Magistrate Abhilash Malhotra, as prima facie the offence was committed in a “planned manner”.

More than six months later, Patriot tried to figure out what has happened in the case against Anil Kumar Sharma. The Additional DCP seemed unaware of the details of the case. This is surprising: A man assaults the CM and the officer in charge of the local police isn’t even aware about progress in the case, if any.

He suggested getting in touch with ACP Randhava, who too professed ignorance about the details of the case. He was in a meeting and suggested that information about the case will be procured by him the following day. Next day, he couldn’t procure information and requested to contact the Station House Officer (SHO) of IP Police Station. The SHO was in the court for some work, asked to be called later. Later, he acknowledged his ignorance about the case, but was curious to know what the story is about.

On further persuasion, the SHO gave the number of the “Record” of the IP Police Station. When “Record” was contacted on various occasions, two different people responded. They too were blissfully unaware of the case details. They sought some more time, and after a day, were able to furnish the information after much persuasion. It seems the case was transferred to the Crime Branch of Delhi Police on the December 10, 2018—after 20 days of investigation by the IP Police Station and few days after Sharma was denied the bail.

DCP crime branch Dr Joy Tirkey didn’t respond to queries about the case. His office, and the inspector-level officers in the Crime Branch were not aware of the case. The office of the DCP, Crime Branch wanted a whole week to get information about the case, but for that, they will have to first find out who is the Investigating Officer. Even after a week, no information is forthcoming from the Crime Branch, despite a note being sent to the DCP.

This highlights the lackadaisical approach towards the security of the chief minister. A study in contrast is the security drill of Yogi Adithyanath, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. It you intend to visit Pancham Tal (the fifth floor of Secretariat Annexe) where the chief minister’s office is located, the first security check is conducted in the lobby before one enters the earmarked lift. Another thorough check is done on the fifth floor, and no one is allowed to carry phones, wallet, or any electronic devices inside the office.

Also, people who don’t have an appointment with the CM, even senior functionaries in his office, are not allowed into the fortified fifth floor. It’s a kind of status symbol to have visited Pancham Tal, indicative of the influence one carries in the corridors of power.

But in Delhi Secretariat, metal detectors are installed at all entrances but once inside the complex, anyone can walk to the chief minister’s office. The CMO is as accessible as that of a section officer.

As the Home Ministry feels no need to beef up his security despite nine attacks, the proactivity shown by Delhi Police in arresting AAP MLAs for charges that couldn’t stand judicial scrutiny is conspicuous by its absence in the case of Anil K Sharma.

Not once or twice but nine times…

1. May 4, 2019: Suresh Chauhan, a regular at AAP’s public meetings, slapped Kejriwal during a roadshow in West Delhi. Under arrest, case being investigated.
2. November 20, 2018: Kejriwal was attacked by Anil Kumar Sharma with chilli powder outside his office at the Delhi Secretariat. Taken into custody, investigation going on.
3. October 2016: Two ABVP activists threw ink at Kejriwal in Rajasthan’s Bikaner district for his comments on surgical strikes. No charges pressed.
4. April 2016: Ved Sharma, claiming to be a member of Aam Aadmi Sena (a breakaway faction from Aam Aadmi Party), threw a shoe at Kejriwal when the CM was addressing a press conference in the Delhi secretariat. No charges pressed.
5. March 2016: Kejriwal’s car pelted with stones by protesters in Punjab’s Ludhiana, resulting in broken windshield. No charges pressed.
6. January 2016: Bhavna Arora, from the AAP’s breakaway group in Punjab, threw ink at Kejriwal alleging a ‘CNG scam’ in Delhi government.
7. April 2014: Autorickshaw driver Lali, 38, slapped Kejriwal at a roadshow in Delhi’s Sultanpuri area. He sustained a minor injury in his left eye.
8. March 2014: Unidentified persons threw ink at Kejriwal while he was campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls in Varanasi. No charges pressed.
9. February 2014: A person punched Kejriwal on his back and tried to slap him during a roadshow in south Delhi’s Dakshinpuri area. No charges pressed.