In a potentially troubling development for the ruling Congress in Uttarakhand, the Delhi Police have registered a case against cabinet minister Harak Singh Rawat on charges of molestation and criminal intimidation.
The case was registered at Safdarjung Enclave police station after a 30-year-old woman on Monday accused the Rudraprayag MLA (not related to chief minister Harish Rawat) of sexually harassing her at a house in south Delhi's Green Park in September last year.
The woman told the police she had approached the minister for a job and he called her to the house, which, according to some reports, belonged to his relative.
A section of the media said the woman, a law student in Delhi, was from Meerut in Uttar Pradesh. There are unconfirmed reports that she is already an advocate.
"If needed we will call the Uttarakhand MLA to join our investigation. We are verifying the allegations. We are also probing why the woman took almost five months to lodge the FIR," a Delhi Police official said on Tuesday.
The minister could not be reached for comment, but was quoted by some earlier reports as having described the allegations as “political blackmail”.
He claimed the woman had met him about five months ago in Dehradun and then in Delhi and requested him to allocate her a land lease deed in Haridwar. “When I turned down her request, the woman tried to blackmail me, about which I have sufficient proof,” reports quoted him as saying.
He added a criminal based in western UP (Meerut is in western UP) was also involved in blackmailing him.
The CM, who assumed charge on February 1, has not spoken on the issue, which has cropped up with Lok Sabha elections due in less than 100 days.
Mayukh Mahar, the Congress MLA from Pithoragarh, however, was forthcoming and said a speedy probe was necessary to bring out the truth. “The allegations have dented the image of our government ahead of the panchayat and Lok Sabha elections. The issue has come at a time when our new chief minister is trying to refurbish the image of our party.”
State Congress spokesperson Surendra Aggrawal said, “Law will take its own course. We hope things will become clear soon.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), meanwhile, is gearing up to corner the government on the issue.
(With inputs from Karn Pratap Singh, New Delhi)