Assault On Chief Secretary Is An Assault On Democracy
To begin with, it is most shocking and disgusting to learn that none other than the Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash has himself charged Aam Aadmi Party MLAs with staging a “premeditated attack” on him during a late night meeting at Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence on February 19. This has to be condemned in the strongest possible parliamentary language! No reason whatsoever can justify physical assault on a Chief Secretary or any other officer!
We all know fully well how Deepali Sharma who was in Uttarakhand Judicial Services as Civil Judge Senior Division was dismissed on charges of beating a young girl who was working at her house! When indiscipline is not tolerated of Judges then why should politicians be an exception? Why should politicians be allowed to get away by just tendering an apology?
Just because they are elected does not mean that they acquire the unfettered licnece to beat anybody! The Delhi Police have registered an FIR against AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan and 11 other MLAs based on Prakash’s complaint. What has happened right in the capital of India and that too in the official residence of the Delhi Chief Minister has shamed all Indians in front of the world! It will take some time for the news to actually sink in my mind!
An assault on Chief Secretary is nothing but an assault directly on our democracy which can never be pardoned under any circumstances. The Chief Secretary is the highest ranked officer of the Indian Administrative Services and assaulting an officer who is a State’s seniormost officer of IAS cadre is most shocking. It cannot be condoned under any circumstances.
Tendering an apology is just not enough. If someone talks with us even loudly, we immediately get angry. But here is the highest ranked officer being assaulted badly by MLAs in front of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal! This as is being reported by media has been confirmed even by medical report! How can this be condoned by just the Chief Minister tendering an apology! This is just not done!
Simply put, those who are guilty of assaulting Chief Secretary must be immediately arrested and sent to the jail forthwith. The AAP government led by Arvind Kejriwal must resign taking high moral ground as all this dastardly act happened right in Kejriwal’s house and in front of him but still he could do nothing to prevent this from happening! If he does not resign even now, Centre must dismiss him immediately!
Let me be forthright in saying that he has lost the right to govern! Who can deny or dispute this? If this is allowed to go unpunished, it will become an unhealthy precedent and politicians will start believing that they can get away by doing anything! How can this be condoned or allowed to go unpunished under any circumstances?
Needless to say, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the Ministry had sought a report on the incident from the Lieutenant-Governor. Responding to the incident on Twitter, Rajnath Singh said he was pained. Very rightly so!
It needs no rocket science to conclude that no good citizen will be happy by this horrifying event which has never been heard of since 1947 in India. One is still to come to terms with this irrefutable fact that such a dastardly attack on none other than the Chief Secretary has actually happened. No matter what anyone may say of Indian democracy, one has to concede that such an attack on the top civil servant has never been heard of since independence! At least I have never heard of such an attack!
It is noteworthy that Rajnath tweeted. “Civil servants should be allowed to work with dignity and without fear. Justice will be done. A delegation of IAS DANICS [Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands Civil Service] & Subordinate Services of Delhi Government met me today and apprised me of the prevailing situation.” All three Delhi government staff associations have said that they will henceforth engage in only written communication with the AAP administration. Very rightly so!
Truth be told, an IAS officer, who did not wish to be named, said that, “There was a heated exchange at the meeting on Monday night. During the argument, two-three AAP MLAs manhandled him…The CS’s spectacles also got broken.” If this can happen with a Chief Secretary then what can happen with a common man? How can these AAP MLAs get so emboldened that they did not hesitate to manhandle the Chief Secretary in the presence of Kejriwal himself and yet he said nothing? Why is Centre not taking any tough action on this?
As it turned out, in a late night development, the Delhi Police arrested AAP MLA Prakash Jarwal who is one of the legislators against whom Anshu Prakash had levelled allegations of assault. But what about others? Why have they been spared? Why have they also not been arrested immediately?
Be it noted, in his police complaint, Prakash said that he was summoned to Kejriwal’s residence at midnight to discuss the difficulty in releasing advertisements to mark the AAP’s three years in power. The assault happened in the presence of the Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and 11 other MLAs, with the intention to criminally intimidate and deter him from discharging his lawful duty. Anshu Prakash said in his complaint that there was one MLA who issued life threats to him. He also disclosed that, “Amanatullah Khan, MLA, and the person/MLA (sitting) on my left side, whom I can identify without any provocation, started assaulting me and hit several blows on my head and temple.” Terrible!
Going forward, the bureaucrats also clarified that the midnight meeting was only about advertisements and not ration supplies as alleged. Earlier, Chief Minister Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia had asked Jayadev Sarangi, DIP Secretary to send out advertisements in TV, radio, etc, regarding the achievements of the AAP government. The first line of this advertisement had Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal saying: “Humne teen saal mein corruption kam kar diya.” Sarangi and directorate of information and publicity department said they could not go ahead with the advertisement as there was no data or certification to authenticate the claim.
DTTDC Secretary Shurbir Singh was also asked to do the same. However, Singh said DTTDC’s job was to create ads. Publishing/ broadcast on media was the task of DIP. After this, Singh went on leave. At 8:45 pm on Monday, advisor to Chief Minister VK Jain made a phone call to Prakash asking him to be present at CM’s residence atmidnight to discuss releasing TV ads related to AAP government’s three years.
CM Kejriwal told the MLAs had come to ask questions about government’s publicity programme. One of the MLAs shut the door of the meeting room. Prakash was made to sit between MLA Amanatullah Khan and another MLA on a three-seater sofa. Kejriwal asked Prakash to explain to the MLAs the reasons for the delay in the release of the TV campaign.
As Prakash was explaining that the officers were bound by the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court, the MLAs started shouting, abusing and blamed Prakash for not doing enough to publicise the government’s works! Is the Chief Secretary a salesman of the government? Are the MLAs having an unfettered right to beat Chief Secretary if he does not listen to their whims and fancies like a salesman? Is MLAs diktat more important than the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court?
Not stopping here, MLAs issued threats for implicating him in false cases including those under SC/ST Act if the issue of releasing TV advertisements about the AAP governments achievements was not resolved. Prakash further alleged that one of the MLAs threatened him saying that he (Prakash) would be confined to the room for the entire night if he did not agree to releasing the TV campaign. Most shocking!
As if this was not enough, two MLAs started raining several blows with fists on Prakash’s head. Anshu Prakash leaves the CM’s residence after being beaten and goes to L-G’s house to complain. Prakash explained it by saying that, “CM directed me to answer the MLAs and explain the reasons for the delay in the release of the TV campaign. I explained to them that officers were bound by guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court”.
Prakash further alleged. “Khan and the other MLA on my left side whom I can identify without any provocation from my side, started hitting and assaulting me and hit several blows with fists on my head and temple.” He added that his spectacles fell to the ground. He also added that, “I was in a state of shock. With difficulty, I was able to leave the room and get into my official car and leave the CM’s residence.”
The inevitable question that crops up here is: Can this be ever condoned by just the Chief Minister tendering an apology as the IAS officers are demanding? Certainly not! Such a heinous crime can never be condoned under any circumstances!
Bluntly put, Prakash concluded the written complaint by saying that, “I request you (North DCP) to take action as per the law as the assault was premeditated and a conspiracy of all (those) present with the intention to criminally intimidate, cause hurt with the motive to deter me from the discharge of my lawful duty and compel me to follow unlawful directions. None of the persons present in the room made any effort to save me.” This clearly implies that not even the CM Kejriwal and Deputy CM Sisodia did anything to save him while he was being roughed up in their presence! Do they still have the right to continue as Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi?
No doubt, this gory incident has cast the whole AAP government in Delhi in a very bad light and it will not be easy for them to now just shrug it off by terming all the charges as ludicrous! Delhi Police’s chief spokesperson Dependra Pathak said that the police have applied nine Indian Penal Code sections in the FIR including criminal conspiracy, wrongful confinement, voluntarily causing hurt and assault to deter a public servant from discharging his duty. How can all this be dismissed lightly by just terming it as “bizarre”?
To be sure, Manisha Saxena who is Secretary of IAS Officers Association said that the Delhi government officers strongly condemned the “false, fabricated and malicious misinformation campaign to cover up the incident of assault of the Chief Secretary”. She questioned. “It is being spread that the meeting was called to discuss the issue of the ration cards for citizens of Delhi. If that was the case, why was the food and supplies minister and secretary not there in the meeting?” She has a valid point!
Not to be left behind, the association of IAS and DANICS and Delhi Subordinate Services of Delhi government in its statement said that, “The incident which has happened at the official residence of the chief minister clearly appears to be pre-planned, pre-meditated and absolutely without any provocation on part of the chief secretary in view of the fact that the meeting was called at midnight. The meeting had been called to put pressure on him to release publicity material regarding achievements of the government.”
The statement further read. “The appalling and shocking physical assault meted out to the head of the administration of Delhi, in form of blows to the head, amounting to threat to life and physical safety, is deplorable.” Till now one could not even dream that such a ghastly attack could ever take place on the highest ranking IAS officer right in our national capital itself! But now it has become an unpalatable truth from which we cannot run away!
In sum, there can be no two opinions about the irrefutable fact that a high level judicial probe headed by a Judge of the Supreme Court of India must be constituted along with some distinguished citizens as members to probe into the allegations and to get to the bottom of it! Truth must come out now in the open and the guilty must not be spared under any circumstances! If the guilty are allowed to get away just by the Chief Minister tendering an apology as is being demanded also by the IAS Association, then be rest assured that this will certainly set a very unhealthy precedent for politicians will start believing that they can get away even after assaulting anyone whom they like, whenever they like, wherever they like and as they like! How can civil servants work with dignity and without fear under such hostile and dangerous atmosphere? They cannot!
By Sanjiv Sirohi