AS THE law came down on Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti and some from his own party endorsed calls for action against him for his controversial midnight raid in South Delhi last week, the top brass of the Aam Aadmi Party Thursday decided to stand by him.
Emerging from a meeting of party leaders, Yogendra Yadav told reporters that there were three issues before them: whether Bharti’s actions violated procedure, whether his remarks smacked of racism, whether he misbehaved with women. And based on “evidence so far”, he said the answer was in the negative on all three counts.
Yadav said a judicial probe was already underway. “If the probe finds him guilty on any count, we will take suitable action.”
Bharti’s actions, Yadav said, were legitimate.
“Somnath Bharti should in fact be praised because he gave up his comforts to look into a matter, which many residents had complained about,” Yadav said.
However, AAP rebel and Laxmi Nagar MLA Vinod Kumar Binny said the party was being hypocritical. “If the policemen were sent on leave, then Bharti should be asked to step down as well so a fair inquiry can be conducted. It does not matter if the files of the inquiry do not go by him, but as a minister he has influence,” he said.
On January 16, Bharti led a raid on an alleged drug-and-prostitution ring in Khirki Extension in South Delhi after receiving “complaints from residents”. Flagging down a police van, Bharti stopped four Ugandan women and took them to AIIMS and allegedly forced them to give urine samples for a drug test.
The women have since recorded statements before the police. Bharti also quarrelled with police who, citing lack of a warrant, refused to conduct a search on a house he suspected was a den of vice.
On Thursday, hours before the AAP leaders went into a huddle, a court in Saket sought a reply from the DCP (South) within two days on the status of the inquiry into the midnight raid by Bharti and his men.
The directions came four hours after the SHO of the Malviya Nagar police station