Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday said his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) would not be backing off any time soon over its demand for the suspension of Delhi Police personnel who have been accused by his administration of dereliction of duty.
New Delhi: Addressing AAP supporters near the Rail Bhawan in the centre of the national capital this morning, Kejriwal questioned whether it was the central government''s intention to take on the Delhi Government by refusing to accept what he termed were the genuine demands of the city administration.
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal. Pic: AFP
He also accused the central government of being insensitive to the condition of the people who have gathered in the heart of Lutyen''s Delhi to get their demands met. He said: "I have just woken up. All the toilets in the vicinity are closed. They are not going to allow any food here from tomorrow. There are a lot of ladies here. Where will they attend their nature calls?"
He further asked: "Does the Home Minister (Shinde) want to fight with the Delhi Government? This is a fight for freedom. If a chief minister cannot suspend a corrupt SHO (Station House Officer), what kind of Republic Day will you celebrate?"
"How can Home Minister Shinde sleep when so many crimes are happening in Delhi? When women feel unsafe in the city? We won''t negotiate, this is not a grocery store," Kejriwal said.
"Since yesterday no food or water has been allowed to enter the protest site. What is the message that the central government wants to convey? Many people want to come, but they are stopped through barricades.
Police are carrying people selectively into buses and beating them up. Is this called democracy?" he asked.
"I appeal to all the people to turnout here in large numbers," he added. Kejriwal, his six ministers and about 200 workers of his Aam Aadmi Party spent the night at the venue of their indefinite protest that they began shortly before noon on Monday.
The AAP protest is turning out to be a security nightmare for the Delhi Police, which has been tasked with securing the area ahead of this year''s Republic Day parade.
Kejriwal, who spent the night at the demonstration site, urged the public to join him in demanding police reforms, starting with the removal of three police officers who had refused to carry out a series of arrests on the orders of Delhi Law Minister, Somnath Bharti.
Home Minister Shinde has said there is no question of any action being taken against the police personnel till a judicial enquiry is completed.
Kejriwal has said this is unacceptable. "Some people say that I am an anarchist creating disorder. Yes, I''m an anarchist," Kejriwal had said on Monday morning after he was stopped by the police from driving up to the Home Minister's office in North Block.
On Monday evening, leaders from his party were seen on camera arguing aggressively with the police about allegedly beating up their supporters, including a law-maker named Akhilesh Tripathi, who was injured and moved to hospital.
Over 4,000 cops and several anti-riot vehicles have been deployed at the venue to prevent the situation from getting out of hand. Kejriwal says the Delhi Government must be given charge of the city''s police force which currently reports to the central government via the Home Ministry.
His demand comes after last week's gang-rape of a Danish tourist, and a controversial midnight raid by Law Minister Bharti in South Delhi''s Khirki Extension area.
The minister asked the police to arrest Ugandan citizens and raid a house where he alleged they were trafficking drugs and sex.
The police refused, saying they had no warrant. Braving the Delhi winter, Kejriwal slept on a mattress at the side of the road, right next to his blue Wagon R. Four Metro stations have been shut near North Block.
The police had asked Mr Kejriwal to shift his protest to Jantar Mantar, but their attempts failed. Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, after the cabinet meeting yesterday, met the Prime Minister and apprised him of the developments and the planned action.
Kejriwal has rejected Shinde's offer that appropriate action will be considered against three Delhi Police cops the Chief Minister wants suspended after an inquiry.
He has demanded the immediate suspension of the cops, who he has accused of dereliction of duty.
The AAP has also alleged that one of their ministers, Saurabh Bharadwaj, had been arrested and made to sit in a bus.
The Delhi Police has denied the charge. They said Bharadwaj had sat in the bus of his own accord. The cops disconnected the public address system in an attempt to make the protesters shift to Jantar Mantar, an area earmarked for demonstrations.
Both the BJP and the Congress have severely criticised Kejriwal for his unprecedented protest. The BJP called it "anarchy", while the Congress said he was "taking the law in his own hands."
Shinde has asked Kejriwal to "maintain the dignity of the Chief Minister's office."