The Telegraph
 
CIMA Gallary

What did you get, Sir, on a day the system heard even death convicts?
Cops on leave, Arvind leaves

New Delhi, Jan. 21: Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal today grabbed a fig-leaf of a face-saver offered by the Centre and called off the siege of a zone he was sworn in to govern.

The chief minister held aloft the trophy of two mid-level police officers sent on leave, declared victory to his restive supporters and ended the dharna.

Feedback from the ground suggesting that his “anarchy” was alienating his core constituency in the upper middle class is being seen as the pivotal factor that compelled the chief minister to lift the siege.

Author Chetan Bhagat was among those who openly expressed their dismay. “The AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) has become the item-girls of politics. The AAP has really let me down with their antics,” Bhagat told NDTV.

The Centre’s decision to send two officers on leave was hardly a victory for the chief minister who had demanded the suspension of five officers, including two assistant commissioners. (See chart below)

With his call to Delhiites to flood the protest site failing to evoke the response he expected, Kejriwal was ready to accept transfer of the officers but they were neither shifted nor suspended as the inquiry is going on.

Delhi police conveyed to the Centre that any attempt to demoralise the force would have unforeseen consequences, sources said.

Senior officials of the national security establishment are also learnt to have advised the government that the protest in the heart of Delhi should not be allowed to drag on in the run-up to Republic Day celebrations because of the security implications. The President, too, is said to have been kept in the picture.

A security meeting had decided to keep a contingency plan ready to clear out the area if no compromise could be found, the sources added.

Against this backdrop, the decision to send the two officers on leave was taken. “There was need to restore order in the city. We thought there is no harm in sending the police officers on leave if it can restore order. It is not that we are trying to defend someone’s culpability or trying to douse someone’s guilt. We will take action if someone is found guilty,” said Deepak Mishra, special commissioner (law and order).

Kejriwal acknowledged that his demands had been met only “partially” but chose to term the offer as a “victory of the people”.

The climbdown was striking, given his pugnacious mood in the morning. The chief minister threatened to flood Rajpath, the vantage stretch of the Republic Day parade, with lakhs of supporters.

Asked about the possibility of finding a middle ground, Kejriwal said: “What is this middle path? Does it mean that if a woman was gang raped, it should be little less?”

However, the atmosphere changed in the afternoon. The cold weather took a toll on his health, aggravating his cough. The thin crowd, despite an emotional appeal by the party to join the protest, did little to lift the mood.

The party blamed the cold response to the matching temperature and morning rain.

Not everyone who turned up was offering full-throated support. “The intention is good but the method is wrong. A chief minister should not sit on dharna and unleash anarchy,” said Neeru Nanda, a former IAS officer who described herself as an ardent Kejriwal supporter.

The “unfavourable” media coverage was another reason that prompted aides to advise the chief minister to withdraw. A section of the media had played a decisive role in putting Kejriwal in the limelight earlier.

But an irate Kejriwal said today: “Fifty per cent of the media belongs to Modi (Narendra Modi) and the rest 50 per cent to Rahul Gandhi.”

Eventually, the event that he threatened to disrupt threw him a straw.

“Just now the lieutenant governor has appealed… He has said that in view of the sanctity of the Republic Day parade and concerns over national security, the protest should be called off,” the chief minister told his supporters around 8pm.

 WHO GOT THE CRUMBS AND WHO GOT THE bread

Kejriwal’s Demand 1

Suspend Malviya Nagar station house officer (SHO) Vijay Pal for refusing to obey the order of Delhi law minister to raid suspected sex-and-drug gangs

What Kejriwal got

SHO Pal sent on leave. The SHO was already on leave for three days from Monday. His leave will continue till the ongoing inquiry is over.

Eligible for full salary and perks as leave is not punishment. If inquiry clears him, he can rejoin.

If found guilty, he can be suspended. Suspension is dreaded in the force because it halves salary, ensures a “bad entry” in the service book and will be reflected in the annual confidential report that affects transfers, promotions and increments

 

Kejriwal’s Demand 2

Suspend Paharganj SHO Raj Kumar for failing to prevent the rape of a 51-year-old Danish woman

What Kejriwal got

Sanjay Singh, the inspector in charge of the police PCR van in central Delhi on the night of the alleged gang rape, to be sent on leave, pending inquiry

 

Kejriwal’s Demand 3

Suspend Sagarpur SHO Richhpal Singh for failure to arrest in-laws of a woman who was set on fire

What Kejriwal got

No action yet on Singh. Kejriwal said all suspects had been arrested “two days ago”, explaining why he was not pushing for suspension. That means the arrests took place before the chief minister began his protest but he did not revise the demand till this evening

 

Kejriwal’s Demand 4

Suspend ACP Harpal Singh for failing to act against Sagarpur SHO

What Kejriwal got

No action till Tuesday night

 

Kejriwal’s Demand 5

Suspend ACP B.S. Jakhar for failing to act against Malviya Nagar SHO

What Kejriwal got

No action till Tuesday night. Jakhar was among those who protected the chief minister when he went to the Rail Bhavan toilet on Monday. On Tuesday, a department under the Union home ministry provided mobile toilets

 

Kejriwal’s Demand 6

Transfer the control of Delhi police from the Union home ministry to the state government

What Kejriwal got

Delhi police under the Union home ministry on Tuesday night. Kejriwal said the dharna was “the first step towards our goal of achieving full-statehood for Delhi”.

The lieutenant governor also assured Kejriwal that the probe into the incidents involving ministers and police would be expedited

 

GOT WITHOUT ASKING

An ego massage. News alert at 1956hrs, Tuesday: Lt Governor Najeeb Jung appeals to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to withdraw protest in view of the Republic Day celebrations

Compiled by Imran Ahmed Siddiqui