Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti, who came under renewed fire Thursday over his controversial action against an alleged “sex and drugs ring”, was defended by his Aam Aadmi Party, while the BJP demanded his arrest and a Delhi court sought a reply from police on a complaint by another Ugandan woman.
The AAP said Bharti did not misuse his power as a minister.
“Looking at the evidence, prima facie, we don’t find anything procedurally wrong… Mr. Bharti did not misuse his powers as a minister,” AAP spokesperson Yogendra Yadav said after party’s Political Affairs Committee meeting.
However, he promised action against the minister if he was found guilty in an inquiry ordered by Delhi’s Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung into the raid.
The court Thursday sought a response from Delhi Police on a fresh plea that a complaint be lodged against “unknown accused” for creating a ruckus during a midnight action led by Bharti in a south Delhi area Jan 16 night.
It had earlier asked police to file a first information report after a complaint was made Jan 19 by an Ugandan woman about the raid, conducted between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. Jan 16.
As another Ugandan woman filed a complaint against AAP cadre and two other recorded their statements as witnesses in the case, the Indian government Thursday said its ties with Africa were very important and the raid does not in any way reflect its ties with the continent.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said that India has assured African envoys that it is committed to pursuing the matter and provide them details of the case.
The fresh complaint was filed by another woman from Uganda who was in India for medical treatment.
Advocate Rakesh Sherawat, appearing for her, told the court Thursday that his client had come to know through the media that the assailants were from the AAP, led by their local legislator (Bharti).
She complained that more than 10 men threatened her, carrying wooden sticks, and told her that if the door was not opened to them, she would be shot.
The mob referred to her as a bad person and made many objectionable comments, she said.
The complainant said that she later recognised on TV some of the people in the mob, who had trespassed, and assaulted, misbehaved, threatened and molested her. Requesting the court to take necessary action against the accused, she said she could identify some of the men who were part of the mob.
Metropolitan Magistrate Chetna Singh directed the deputy commissioner of police, south Delhi to file a report by Jan 25.
The FIR on the basis of the first complaint has been filed under various charges dealing with wrongful confinement, criminal intimidation and acts intended to insult the modesty of a woman. The case has been transferred to Mehrauli police station from Malviya Nagar police station. Bharti is not named in the complaint.
The minister had gone to a house in Khirki area last week after receiving complaints about an alleged prostitution and drug racket there.
Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, including Vijay Goel and Vijender Gupta, Thursday met Delhi’s Police Commissioner B.S. Bassi and demanded Bharti’s arrest.
“We gave a letter to the commissioner asking why is Somnath Bharti not being arrested in spite of being named by a Ugandan woman in her statement,” Gupta told IANS.
Amid the row involving his minister, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Thursday met Jung.
However, no details were available of the meeting that took place at Jung’s official residence.
Congress, which props up the AAP government, also demanded “strict action” against Bharti. Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely, who led a party delegation to Jung, said they had got an assurance that a fair probe would be conducted in the matter.
“The people of Delhi are wondering whether the law is the same for the common man as well as a minister,” he said. The Congress expected the AAP government to fulfil the 18 promises it made to the people of Delhi, he added.
“The day they blunder on those promises, we’ll think about continuing the support,” he said.