In an astonishing incident, MLA Somnath Bharti of the Aam Aadmi Party decided to act on local complaints after police refused to conduct a raid on a building said to be the venue of drug smuggling and a prostitution racket. The resulting incident has two separate narratives.
The Aam Aadmi Party claims that MLA Somnath Bharti acted on the complaints of locals after police refused to take action against the alleged operation. The police also refused to carry out the raid on Somnath Bharti's orders (Delhi police are controlled by the union government and MLAs have no direct authrity over them).
The police claim that they cannot conduct a raid without a warrant. It is unclear why they had not procured a warrant and raided the premises based on local information and complaints, though, since media quotes several residents who claim to have approached the police several times as well as requested earlier MLAs.
Somnath Bharti appears to have taken the law in his hands and conducted his own version of a raid with the help of local residents, and supporters are circulating this image as that of a Nigerian caught red handed during this raid, but allowed to escape by the police. [Update: AAP volunteers have retracted this image saying that it is not from that night]
In the meanwhile, another narrative has emerged, where a group of women from Uganda have alleged that the crowd wrongfully restrained them in a taxi for several hours and assaulted them and forcibly took them to a hospital and forced them to undergo tests.
“We were returning from a party, when our taxi was stopped by a few men. They started shouting at us, calling us names. The police were in fact supporting us. They held us captive inside the car for over three hours,” one of the women told The Indian Express.
“The men hit us,” she said, pointing to bruises on her face. According to the women, the men then took them to a hospital. Some police personnel accompanied them, the women said.
“We asked the men where they are taking us. They said we would have to undergo a medical examination to check if we had consumed drugs. We were taken to the hospital and a series of tests were conducted,” she claimed.
Urine samples were taken and their private parts also probed, she said.
“They took our urine samples, put some machines on our body and also cavity searched us. We felt humiliated. We kept telling them that we have not consumed drugs. They then asked for a blood sample which we refused to give,” she said.
The women seem to have told Indian Express that they were taken to the hospital and forced to undergo tests, while Harish Salve, who is their lawyer appears to have told media that one of them forced to urinate in public before being taken to hospital.
Given the state of Indian journalism (and possibly lawyers), the narrative contradicts itself between reports, but some things are crystal clear. There seems to be no doubt that Somnath Bharti led a mob that wrongfully restrained women, abducted them, forced them to undergo tests.
The urine samples appear to be clean, as per the hospital.
The women have made it clear that the Delhi Police aided them - which I suppose is the silver lining in this nightmare.
Delhi Police regarding Somnath Bharti's drug raid
- While Delhi Police appears to be wearing a convenient halo at the moment, it is unclear why they had allowed the operation to thrive unhampered till the situation reached this point.
- How correct is it to claim that Delhi police cannot search premises without warrants? Is this the whole truth? What about section 42 of the CRPC that allows police to conduct searches without warrant if there is a risk of the accused fleeing and if they can provide their reasons in writing?
- Why is it that Delhi Police did not have a warrant ready in spite of residents openly stating that they had made repeated comments to both police and previous MLAs?
Why did Delhi police allow the man caught with drugs to leave?
- Why did Delhi Police not intervene to protect the women while the crowd held them hostage for hours, and forcibly took them to the hospital and to the point where the crowd deposited them in the police station?
Aam Aadmi Party and MLA Somnath Bharti
How is it that the women captured from a taxi were forced to go to hospital for tests, but not the man you claim to have caught red handed?Does Somnath Bharti have any proof at all from his supposed raid that drugs were found?
- Are you aware that women cannot be arrested by police without lady constables being present and they can refuse to go to the police station? I believe this information was tweeted by your Twitter account during the protests after Delhi Gang Rape. How do you justify capturing the women, forcibly taking them to a hospital and then to a police station - even if it is a civilian arrest - AT NIGHT?
- The women's urine samples have come out clean. Do you accept that you forcibly restrained the women, assaulted them, kidnapped them and subjected them to mental and physical trauma and medical procedures against their will? In essence, this means that a mob led by Somnath Bharti were a menace to women on the streets of Delhi. Why is this being defended after all the pretty election speeches about women's safety?
- I accept that the Delhi Police is corrupt, and sold out and worse, controlled by political rivals. Do you imagine that taking the law in your own hands is a solution? How did this action help improve Delhi in any manner?
UPA2, Congress and Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde
- You control the police that refused to act on complaints of drug peddling with clear information provided. What is your explanation for this inaction? What is your interest in protecting drug smugglers?
- Can Delhi expect to be safe, if you abuse the police to deny citizens law and order - for whatever reasons, including but not limited to vested interests of your allies (Shinde is in another hot seat for shielding a possible criminal from interrogation, right?) or political leverage by causing discontent about the Delhi government if people are frustrated by ongoing lack of security?