Delhi’s chief minister and police are at loggerheads, once again. This time the issue is the security at Sheila Dikshit’s residence at Moti Lal Place in Lutyens Delhi.
The police, citing law-and-order issues, have asked the Delhi government to disallow people from gathering in large numbers to meet Dikshit at her residence and shift the meetings to the chief minister’s office at Delhi Secretariat.
In a recent letter to the home department, a copy of which is with Hindustan Times, the police said that “supporters of the Congress party, residents from JJ clusters, and large groups from the recently approved unauthorised colonies led by their respective MLAs have started converging in large numbers at the CM’s residence in connection with various issues. They gather initially on the Moti Lal Nehru Marg, choking it completely, before gaining entry into the CM's residence.” Such gatherings compromise the security of other VIPs living in the area, the letter said.
Police officers confirmed that they had sent the proposal to the chief minister’s office. “We have proposed to the government that the visits of large groups be organised at the Delhi Secretariat,” Taj Hassan, joint commissioner of police, central range, Delhi Police, said.
Delhi government officials, who were not enthused by the police’s proposal, have replied to the letter.
They pointed out that providing security to the chief minister was the police's responsibility.
“Dikshit has been residing at the address for the past eight years. There has never been a problem before this. Besides, she is also the area legislator. It is her right to meet members of her electorate,” said an official in the chief minister’s office.
“Several other VIPs live in the Lutyens Bungalow Zone. Are the police seeking to sanitise the area from the public? Why have they singled out the chief minister?” the official asked. “We are sure that the police are competent enough to manage large crowds.”
The letter by the police goes on to point out that a space crunch forces visitors to park their vehicles haphazardly, hampering the movement of VIPs.
“The inner lawns do not have barricades, which can easily lead to a stampede. Evacuation of the VIPs and others during an emergency through of the two gates of the chief minister’s residence is going to be difficult,” said a senior Delhi police official.
The police and the government have been in disagreement for some time, with Dikshit raising concerns over law and order in the city. She has also voiced her support for the police to be brought under her government's control.