Ten people are under the police’s scanner and are likely to be arrested for allegedly ‘harbouring’ former Delhi law minister and AAP legislator Somnath Bharti, who faces arrest in an attempt to murder and domestic violence case filed against him by his wife Lipika Mitra, police said.
The 10 people include some Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) workers based in Delhi and Agra in Uttar Pradesh, Delhi Police officials said on Tuesday.
Hunting Bharti, the Delhi Police picked up his brother Loknath Bharti and private secretary for questioning regarding his whereabouts on Tuesday evening.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Southwest) Dependra Pathak said that while Gurpreet, Somnath Bharti’s private secretary, was picked up from the MLA’s Malviya Nagar office, his brother -- whose name is reportedly present in the complaint by Mitra -- was picked up from his Vasant Kunj residence.
Earlier in the day, Bharti’s anticipatory bail application was rejected by the Delhi high court after which six teams of the southwest Delhi Police were constituted under the supervision of RA Sanjeev, DCP (southwest), to raid places Bharti visits across the city. The teams raided Bharti’s residence in Malviya Nagar and his offices in Dwarka, but he was not found at either of the two places. Raids continued till late in the night and as many as 15 potential places were searched to arrest him. His mobile phone was also found switched off or out of reach, police said.
Deependra Pathak, joint commissioner of police (southwestern range), said they have identified the people who have been harbouring the AAP legislator even as he is an “offender” wanted by the Dwarka North police.
“Anybody who has been extending support to Somnath Bharti and helping him in evading the law will be booked under section 212A (harbouring offender) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). All such persons who provided shelter, vehicles and mobile phones to the absconding offender while he was on the run will be booked. We will not spare such people even if the suspects turn out to be political leaders or other prominent personalities,” said Pathak adding they tried to contact Bharti over the phone but it was switched off.
According to an investigator, out of the 10 identified suspects who harboured Bharti, two were close confidants and residents of Malviya Nagar while another is from central Delhi’s Daryaganj. “The person from Daryaganj gave Bharti his mobile phone to contact some media houses. A senior AAP worker in Agra provided Bharti shelter while the latter was evading arrest,” said the officer.
When HT tried to contact Bharti his mobile phone was answered by an office assistant who said she was unaware of his whereabouts. Later in the evening, calls to him went unanswered.
Calling Bharti’s legal problems personal, AAP leaders said the Delhi Police had shown uncharacteristic haste in trying to arrest him and that Bharti was yet to exhaust all his legal options.
“The moment his bail is rejected you have the police standing at his door and senior police officials commenting. But you will see no such proactiveness when it comes to cases like that the one in Nand Nagri where a man was murdered,” said senior party leader Ashutosh. He also urged Bharti to come forward and clear his stand.