Kejriwal ends protest as centre bows to demands

Tags: News
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday abruptly called off a 48-hour-long sit-in strike after claiming victory.

The high-voltage drama that disrupted road traffic and metro travel in central Delhi through Tuesday ended late evening after two police officers were sent on leave under a compromise deal with the Centre over the CM’s demand for suspension of five officials for alleged dereliction of duty. Delhi’s police force comes under the jurisdiction of the Union government.

Kejriwal said a judicial inquiry ordered against the police officers was being expedited and four persons have been arrested in separate incidents.

His critics called it a “climb down” and a “face-saver, as he was finding it difficult to sustain the agitation.” The BJP accused the Centre of “blinking” on the threat of an “anarchist” and called the Congress-led UPA a “weak” administration.

The conciliation was reached after daylong scuffles between AAP protesters and security forces that left 15 people, including two policemen and a print journalist, injured. Kejriwal had sent out a threat earlier in the day to flood Rajpath — the ceremonial boulevard in New Delhi — with Aam Aadmi Party members on the Republic Day.

He said lieutenant-governor Najeeb Jung had appealed to him to end the strike in view of the Republic Day and a perceived security threat. Sources said the decision to offer an olive branch to him was taken by the Congress leadership.

The CM said the L-G had told him that the SHO of Malviya Nagar police station and in-charge of Paharganj PCR van — officials against whom he was demanding action — had been told to go on leave. The SHO faced the CM’s wrath for not conducting a raid on African nationals for alleged drug trafficking and prostitution while the other officer drew his ire following the gangrape of Danish national in his jurisdiction.

Kejriwal was also protesting against the police in West Delhi’s Sagar Pur area for not arresting a person accused of having burnt his daughter-in-law. The police have since arrested the in-laws of the victim.

“We respect the L-G’s appeal. It is a victory for the people of Delhi,” Kejriwal said after an hour-long closed-door meeting with his cabinet colleagues and AAP leaders at the Press Club of India. He said he would not stop here. “We will make the Delhi police accountable for every crime.”

Through the day, protesters shouting anti-police slogans had confrontations with security personnel at the venue of the strike. On two occasions, the protestors clashed with policemen. Hundreds of slogan-shouting AAP members climbed and crossed barricades, severely straining the police personnel as they tried to block crowd in the area where Kejriwal was protesting along with his ministers, party leaders and legislators.

“Why has there been so much delay in taking action in cases of rape, drug mafia and those involved in flesh trade?" the chief minister asked, claiming that in one instance the Union home minister had got 12 policemen suspended for damage caused to his windowpane by some protestors.

Kejriwal also took a dig at the media for taking sides of the rival parties. “Whatever media say, let them say. I know people are very sensible. We have brought the politics out of the closed-door air-conditioned rooms. The BJP and the Congress must change their politics. Otherwise, they would become part of history.”

He said, “Protesting and raising voice for the people of my state is not anarchy. This is real democracy.”

Rival BJP accused him of speaking the language of Maoist rebels and claimed he was clueless about running a government. “This is a joint operation of AAP and the Congress, which led to anarchy. Both have reasons for doing this,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.

The Congress hinted of withdrawing support to the Kejriwal government for its “anarchist conduct”. Party spokesperson Randip Surjewala said, “The Congress will take an appropriate decision at an appropriate time.”

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