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Delhi in disarray as 'anarchist' CM takes his govt to street

Kejriwal says dharna for 10 days if demands not met; AAP members from Delhi's LS seats to assemble today; Threat looms on this year's Republic Day celebrations

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

It was a state of confusion and disoder in the capital on Monday when Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, like his earlier agitations as member of non-government organisation India Against Corruption, squatted outside Rail Bhavan, a Central spot close to Parliament. He was demanding action against the police officers who had refused to raid an alleged drug and prostitution racket in a South locality.

Faced with a virtual stand-off, the Centre had to call the Rapid Action Force (RAF) and Kejriwal and his supporters were asked to shift his dharna to Jantar Mantar. But, as at the time of going to press, they had not done so. Disorder prevailed outside the four-km quadrangle around South Block, North Block and Rashtrapati Bhavan - these areas, being readied for the Republic Day, were kept out of bounds, guarded by 3,000 policemen.

More turmoil is likely on Tuesday as members of the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) from Delhi's seven Lok Sabha constituencies have been asked to assemble at Rail Bhavan in the morning.

Kejriwal has threatened to continue the dharna for 10 days if his demand is not accepted. His firm stance also casts a shadow on this year's celebrations, as it might not be possible to hold a parade if a stalemate continues. The Police, on its part, has made it clear it will not countenance disruption of

Ahead of the protest, four Metro rail stations near the North block - Central Secretariat, Race Course Road, Udyog Bhavan and Patel Chowk - were closed from 9 am. Later, Patel Chowk and Race Course Road stations were opened at 2.14 pm but the entry and exit to the Central Secretariat and Udyog Bhavan Metro stations remain closed, as directed by the police. On Tuesday, these four stations will remain shut from 6 am to 10 am.

Saurabh Bhardwaj, a minister in the Delhi government, alleged he had been detained, while Akhilesh Tripathi, an member of the Delhi Assembly, said he was beaten up. These could not be independently verified.

Using powerful imagery, Kejriwal said the police had become an extortionist force and needed to be reined in. He said it had become inured to complaints and while it sought no warrants to enter the homes of labourers living in slums, it threw the rulebook at those who wanted it to act against immorality.

The evidence was not hard to find, he said, adding even former home secretary R K Singh (who has just joined the Bharatiya Janata Party) had claimed that none other than the Union home minister sent 'chits' to bureaucrats for recruitment in the police force. "Some people are saying that I am an I am spreading disorder. I agree, I am an Today, I will create anarchy for Shinde," he said in an impromptu address to his party's MLAs and supporters at the dharna site.

In his address, Kejriwal put the blame squarely on the prime minister, the home minister and the Centre for the situation leading to his dharna. He also appealed to people to join him in his protest.

The chief minister attacked the functioning of the police, saying the streets of Delhi were not safe for women, referring to the rape of a Danish woman just a few days ago.

The current crisis had started two days ago, when Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti asked the police to raid private premises where, he alleged, a sex and drug racket involving Ugandan nationals was going on. The police refused to obey his orders until due process was followed. Law and order in Delhi, a Union Territory and the country's capital, is controlled by the Union Government. Kejriwal has been demanding that the officers who defied a minister should be punished. Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, on the other hand, has said that an action can be taken only after a committee of enquiry instituted by Lieutenant Governor Najib Jung gives his report.

Kejriwal also said he had got a letter from the High Commissioner of Uganda in Delhi, praising his government's actions, given that Ugandan nationals were used for trafficking women. However, the external affairs ministry said Uganda had yet to post a High Commissioner in New Delhi and wondered who exactly had written to Kejriwal.

First Published: Tue, January 21 2014. 00:59 IST