Arvind Kejriwal’s Stand-Off With Delhi Police Continues
A stand-off between the Chief Minister of the Indian capital Delhi Arvind Kejriwal and the police on a busy city road has entered its second day.Police stopped Mr Kejriwal near India Gate on Monday and blocked roads leading to Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde’s office.
His anti-corruption Aam Aadmi Party is demanding more control over police.
Mr Kejriwal spent the night on the road with his supporters and said the demonstration would continue.
Mr Kejriwal took over as Delhi’s chief minister earlier this month after his party won 28 of the 70 seats in recent elections on a pledge to fight corruption.
But Delhi’s police force is run by the federal government and Mr Kejriwal was on his way to the home minister’s office to demand the suspension of a number of policemen.
Several thousand policemen have cordoned off the site of Mr Kejriwal’s demonstration and at least four metro stations have been shut down.
Mr Kejriwal slept on a mattress on the road at the site of the protest on Monday night.
“Since yesterday no food or water has been allowed to enter the protest site. What message the central government wants to convey? Many people want to come but they are stopped through barricades. Police is carrying people selectively in to the bus and beating them up. Is this called democracy?” Mr Kejriwal told reporters.
Mr Kejriwal and his ministers have been signing government files sitting on the road since Monday.
Monday’s protest was prompted by an incident last week when the Aam Aadmi Party became embroiled in a bitter row with police and members of Delhi’s African community, that threatened to become a diplomatic issue.
Last Wednesday Mr Kejriwal’s Law Minister, Somnath Bharti, and various party supporters allegedly confronted four Ugandan women in a Delhi neighbourhood accusing them of prostitution.
Media reports said a row erupted when police refused to search a nearby house for evidence of a suspected drugs and prostitution racket because they did not have a warrant.
Mr Bharti and Aam Aadmi Party supporters were accused of threatening and intimidating the women, forcing their way into homes and making racist remarks.
Indian Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said a judicial inquiry on the role of the police had been ordered into the alleged incident and that Mr Kejriwal “should wait for its result” before protesting.
But Mr Kejriwal says his protest encompasses more grievances than the latest confrontation.
His party is also demanding the suspension of a number of policemen – he alleges police refused to take action in one case involving the death of a woman, reportedly killed over a demand for dowry by her in-laws.
They have also condemned the police for their handling of another case involving the alleged gang-rape of a Danish woman in the city last week – six people have so far been arrested in connection with the attack.