Delhi chief minister calls protest on Republic Day


Tue, Jan 21, 2014 - Page 6

The campaigning chief minister of New Delhi who swept to power last month after leading protests against corruption yesterday called for a mass demonstration to disrupt Republic Day celebrations on Sunday.

Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal, a firebrand grassroots organizer, took to the streets near the site of the annual Republic Day military parade to press his demands for reforms of the police in the capital.

“I couldn’t sleep last night. All those who think their daughters, wives are not safe on Delhi streets, come and join us here,” he said after battling police blockades to reach a spot near the presidency building.

“Earlier I thought it would create problems with the Republic Day celebrations. But celebrations are meaningless if we look at the current state of affairs,” he said.

“What is the meaning of Republic Day when our women are not safe? We will sit here till justice is delivered,” he said, adding that he intended to stay for 10 days.

The Republic Day celebrations are an annual celebration of India’s military when missiles, tanks and marching soldiers parade down the main road of New Delhi leading to the presidency building.

Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party made sensational gains in Delhi state elections held last month and he is eyeing parliamentary polls due by May amid a surge in support nation-wide for his campaign.

Kejriwal wants Delhi’s police force, which is widely criticized as corrupt, to come under the control of the Delhi state government instead of the central government, which runs it via the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Officers are often accused of taking bribes, failing to pursue cases or doing enough to protect women’s safety in a city still seething from the much publicized fatal gang rape of a woman just over a year ago.

The Aam Aadmi has already clashed with law enforcement over policing tactics.

Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti was accused last week of vigilantism after he went out to an area of south Delhi to raid a house allegedly used for prostitution and drug dealing.