PIL on hoarding: Delhi Police question Youth Cong chief BV Srinivas
The Delhi Police’s crime branch visited the office of the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) on Friday and questioned its president, BV Srinivas, over the source of oxygen cylinders and other life-saving drugs with which he was helping Covid-19 patients and their families, at a time when the Capital is struggling with a shortage of both resources and essential drugs amid the fourth wave of Covid-19.
The police’s action invited the criticism from the Congress, although Delhi Police has questioned politicians across the spectrum delivering such aid on the direction of the Delhi High Court.
Videos of the police team inside the IYC headquarters made the rounds on social media, after which many people, including senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, tweeted with the trending hashtag #IstandwithIYC.
Over the past few weeks, Srinivas has emerged as the humanitarian face of the crisis that gripped many parts of India and especially the national capital, delivering oxygen cylinders and concentrators, and finding hospital beds for those that needed them.
Government officials aware of the matter said Srinivas was questioned as part of their ongoing probe into the alleged black marketing and hoarding of medical supplies. A pubic interest litigation was filed in the Delhi high court alleging that some politicians were hoarding and distributing essential medicines required in the treatment of Covid-19.
The crime branch, in the last five days, has questioned people from other political parties too. Police have recorded statements of Aam Aadmi Party MLA Dilip Pandey, BJP Delhi spokesperson Harish Khurana, former Congress MLA Mukesh Sharma, among others.
Khurana confirmed that he too was contacted by the crime branch. “The police investigation is based on court’s direction. They are asking all those, including people from BJP, who provided help to others. It is wrong to say that this is being done on the directions of the Centre,” he said.
Srinivas said: “Somebody filed a PIL asking how we were getting Covid-19 medicines while there is a shortage. The police team came to find the source of our supply. They said they have to submit a reply to the high court. They took the statement of people from other parties too. We have done nothing wrong. We will continue to help people.”
Commenting on Srinivas’ questioning by the Delhi police, Randeep Singh Surjewala, general secretary of the Congress, tweeted, “People of this country must decide if helping people with oxygen or providing medicines… is a crime. Is it a crime to help people in getting beds at the hospital? Maybe this is a crime, so Delhi police is questioning our youth Congress president BV Srinivas.”
Though Delhi police did not issue any statement on Friday spokesperson, Chinmoy Biswal, said they had already issued a clarification on Wednesday. “On a writ petition filed by a person identified as Dr Deepak Singh about politicians involved in illegal distribution of Covid-19 medicines etc, the honourable high court of Delhi has directed the Delhi Police to conduct an enquiry. In compliance to the directions of the high court, an enquiry is being conducted and we are questioning several people.”
Singh did not respond to calls and messages seeking comment.
When contacted, senior AAP leader Dilip Pandey said, “People like us have some form of political backing, but think about those hundreds and thousands of individuals who are selflessly helping others. In the coming days, if we see a third wave, fewer people will come out to help fearing they will be questioned by the police. As for people like us, we will continue to help people in whatever way we can.”
Pandey added the timing and manner in which these investigations are being carried out is wrong.“They must do it in a considerate way. It should not be that they waste all their time going after innocent people while the actual culprits roam free,” he said.
BJP MP from East Delhi Gautam Gambhir put out a tweet on Friday saying that the opposition should not indulge in needless politicization of due process. “Delhi Police has asked for a reply from us & we’ve provided all details. I will keep serving Delhi & its people to the best of my abilities always!” he tweeted. Gambhir did not respond to requests for comment.
(With inputs from Umar Sofi)