By detaining Aam Aadmi Party's leaders Ashutosh and Shazia Ilmi, the Delhi Police have tried to tell the party that it was not above the law. Senior police officials said they wanted to ‘shatter the air of invincibility that AAP thought it enjoyed in Delhi’.
AAP leader Shazia Ilmi walking away as Delhi Police use water cannon on AAP workers during their protest outside BJP headquarters in New Delhi. (Arvind Yadav/ HT photo)
But the Delhi court’s decision to let them leave failed to take the police’s attempt to the ‘logical conclusion’ they had hoped it would reach: That ‘snap justice and vigilantism would not go unpunished’. These had been the Delhi Police’s words when AAP had run amok in the Capital two months ago.
“The very first section invoked in the First Information Report (FIR) pertaining to the incident was that of Section 3 of the public property damage act - which is non-bailable,” said a senior police officer.
Delhi Police officials privy to the said FIR told HT that the report had been the product of an entire day and night of brain-storming and research with the objective of sending prominent AAP leaders such as Ilmi and Ashutosh behind bars.
However, the two were asked eight questions each by the police at separate police stations for around four hours before being allowed to leave after having their statements recorded in the presence of a magistrate.
In all, 14 AAP supporters had been booked under sections 145 (joining unlawful assembly), 147 (punishment for rioting), 148, guilty of rioting, 149 (an offence committed by any member of an unlawful assembly), 152 (assaulting or obstructing public servant when suppressing riot).
“On what merit the court allowed them to seek and get bail is beyond us. In any case, we got our point across that no one is above the law and will be punished for breaking it,” said another police officer.
On January 16, HT had reported on the Delhi Police’s resolve of punishing AAP for a repeat of what they had called ‘snap roadside courts’ in relation to the midnight raids carried out by Rakhi Birla and Somnath Bharti.