Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti identified by ‘harassed woman’

 

A Ugandan woman who along with four other women from Africa was allegedly rounded up by Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti and AAP cadres during a midnight raid last week has identified him after seeing video footage from news channels and newspaper clippings, police said Wednesday.

Women’s groups have demanded action against Bharti for his “horrific act of harassment and racial profiling”.

A woman sub-inspector has been appointed to investigate the case. Police said five women – two from Uganda and three from Nigeria – who were allegedly victimised by Bharti and supporters of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on the night of Jan 16 recorded their statements before a metropolitan magistrate Tuesday.

“One of them has identified four people, including Bharti, when police showed her the video footage from news channels and newspaper clippings,” a police officer said.

Police said they will frame charges against Bharti and the investigation report will be submitted before a court.

Earlier, police said a woman officer will investigate the assault on the foreign women living in south Delhi’s Malviya Nagar area.

“A woman sub-inspector would investigate the alleged assault on four Ugandan women by Bharti and Aam Aadmi Party supporters,” a police officer told IANS.

After a protest by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his cabinet colleagues demanding suspension of some police officers for their alleged inaction in busting a “prostitution and drug racket”, the station house officer (SHO) of Malviya Nagar police station was sent on leave. (Read: Somnath Bharti – the Dark Knight Delhi deserves?)

The probe has been transferred to police in Mehrauli, an officer said.

Women rights organisations here have written an open letter to Kejriwal, urging him to take action against Bharti for the midnight raid to unearth an alleged “drugs and prostitution” racket.

“It is with extreme dismay that we write to you regarding the horrific act of harassment and racial profiling of Ugandan women by a group led by Somnath Bharti, comprising other members of the Aam Aadmi Party,” the letter said.

“Such a targeting goes against the sense of security and human rights of all women in general, and of single and working women in particular.”

“This was also a clear case of racial profiling against foreign citizens. We are, therefore, shocked to see you and other leaders of your party defend the actions of Somnath Bharti,” it added.

The group has also mentioned that the television footage of the incident, including Somnath Bharti’s own detailed statements, CCTV footage from AIIMS and the complaints by the women themselves, clearly indicate that the law minister has endangered the women and instigated the crowd to violate their rights.

The group reiterated the long-standing demand that the central government take urgent necessary steps towards bringing Delhi Police under the administrative control of the Delhi government.

Delhi Transport Minister Saurabh Bhardwaj came out in support of his colleage.

He told reporters that a survey should be conducted in the Khirki Extension area to know the “truth”.

“Ask any random 100 people in the area whether there is a drug and sex racket operating… ask them if what Somnath Bharti did was wrong,” he said. IANS