Man who attacked Kejriwal may have feigned mother’s illness to gain entry
A west Delhi resident allegedly tried to throw chilli powder at Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal outside his office at the Delhi Secretariat on Tuesday afternoon — an incident for which the Delhi government blamed the police for failing to protect the CM. The man was restrained before he could smear the powder on Kejriwal’s face even as the CM’s spectacles broke in the melee. The incident was captured on CCTV camera.
Police identified the man as Anil Kumar Sharma, 40, an employee of a private firm who went to meet the CM saying he wanted to seek financial assistance for the treatment of his ailing mother. The Delhi Police said they registered a case under IPC sections 186 (obstructing public servant), 353 (assault), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant) and 506 (criminal intimidation).
They arrested Sharma late on Tuesday. “Though we did not receive any formal complaint from the chief minister’s secretariat, based on preliminary enquiry, a cognizable offence was made out,” said Rajesh Khurana, JCP (central range).
In the first official statement immediately after the attack, however, the police did not mention any attack on the CM. They said the CM’s spectacles fell when his security tried to prevent Sharma from touching his feet. “Subsequently, security personnel removed him and found him carrying a pouch, which tore and apparently contained chilli powder,” the police said. The police revised the statement after CCTV footage showed the man bowing before Kejriwal before suddenly trying to reach for his face. When asked why the police had made that initial statement, a senior officer who asked not to be named blamed “poor language skills” of an officer involved in the recording of the incident.
The Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) spokesperson Raghav Chadha, who said he was an eyewitness to the attack, alleged that the intent behind the “planned attack” was to injure Kejriwal. Later, at a press conference, deputy CM Manish Sisodia recalled all the previous attacks on the CM. “In the same building, a shoe was hurled at the CM. At the inauguration of Signature Bridge on November 4, bottles were thrown towards the CM while he was making a speech. Have any arrests been made in any of these cases?” he asked.
The government later lashed out at the police for “lying on record” and sought to know how a man carrying chilli powder and a matchbox had access to the CM’s office.
According to Khurana, Sharma was at the secretariat to seek financial help for his mother, who suffers from tuberculosis. “He first met an officer at the Public Grievance Monitoring System (PGMS) on the seventh floor before approaching the CM on the third floor at 2.25pm.”
The attempted attack took place when the CM was walking out of his chamber for lunch. “Sharma tried to hand over his complaint to the CM, who in turn passed it on to a staff member... Sharma then bowed down to touch Kejriwal’s feet, but used the opportunity to charge towards him. The attempt, however, was swiftly foiled by the CM’s security staff,” said Amit Sharma, additional deputy commissioner of police (central).
A private security guard outside the CM’s office recounted Sharma pleading with Kejriwal moments before the attack. “He said, ‘aap hi se ummeed hai’ [you are our hope]”
Khurana said the local police, special cell and the Intelligence Bureau conducted a “joint interrogation” of Sharma because of the threats he made against Kejriwal. “During the interrogation, he was found to be incoherent and mentally unstable,” he said.
The BJP initially condemned the attack, but later alleged that it may have been an inside job carried out at Kejriwal’s instance. “The statement of the deputy CM comparing today’s attack to the one at the Signature Bridge shows that it is only a drama,” alleged Manoj Tiwari, the Delhi BJP chief.
In a video that television channels played in the evening, the accused could be heard calling Kejriwal a “traitor” and the BJP a “party of patriots” in response to journalists’ queries. Hindustan Times could not verify the authenticity of the video.