Administrative work in India’s capital Delhi came to a standstill on Tuesday amid protests by bureaucrats after State Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash (pictured) was allegedly beaten up by two lawmakers as the chief minister and his deputy looked on.
Following the incident, civil servants said they will boycott all meetings called by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his cabinet till he apologised for the assault.
The unprecedented incident nicknamed ‘#AAPslapgate’ happened late on Monday night at the home of Kejriwal who heads the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), according to sources.
Expressing pain over the incident, Federal Home Minister Rajnath Singh has sought a report from Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal on the alleged assault. Singh tweeted justice will be done in the case so that civil servants can work with dignity and without fear.
AAP said the meeting at Kejriwal’s home was held to discuss issues related to distribution of rations among the poor. Dismissing assault allegations, AAP said the chief secretary left the meeting saying he was answerable only to the Lieutenant Governor and verbally abusing some lawmakers present at Kejriwal’s home.
Rejecting AAP’s version of the incident, officials said they were discussing an advertisement campaign — not rations — to mark three years of the AAP government. Some disagreement cropped up over the advertisement rates. Suddenly, two AAP lawmakers began thrashing the chief secretary as Kejriwal and his deputy looked on. The assault went on for minutes in front of horrified officials.
The officials said lawmaker Amanatullah Khan, who had brush with law, held the chief secretary “by his collar”, shouted at him and broke his glass. Lawmaker Prakash Jarwal also abused him.
Denying the charge, Jarwal said the chief secretary made casteist remarks at him and another lawmaker Ajay Dutt when they asked him why Dalit (marginalised and oppressed group) families were not getting rations. In an email to Baijal, he said an FIR should be lodged against the chief secretary.
A group of civil servants later met Baijal and demanded that an FIR be registered against the culprits behind the assault on the chief secretary.
An AAP team separately met Baijal and sought action against the chief secretay for his “misconduct” at the meeting in Kejriwal’s home.
AAP leaders ‘attacked’
A spokesperson of AAP alleged revenge attack by government officials on party leaders Ashish Khetan and Environment Minister Imran Hussain inside the Delhi Secretariat on Tuesday.
Khetan called the police control room saying he was being roughed up at the state secretariat. TV news channels showed an unruly mob gathered in front of the Delhi secretariat shouting “Thrash them”.
The chief secretary could not be reached for his comments. AAP said the chief secretary is making assault charges at BJP’s behest. The saffron party is stooping low and creating obstacles in the smooth functioning of the AAP government through senior officials, the party alleged.
BJP’s Delhi unit called Monday’s incident a “shameful act” by Kejriwal and his “goon MLAs”. Congress leader Ajay Maken tweeted Kejriwal should apologise for the ‘hooliganism’ staged at his home.
The stand-off between AAP and Delhi bureaucrats had started ever since the party came to power in 2015. They frequently fought over who controls the capital. AAP accuses Delhi’s bureaucracy of obstructing it at every turn at the orders of the BJP-led federal government.