New Delhi: The arrest of an AAP MLA on Saturday opened a new front in the constant feuding between the Delhi government and the Centre, with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of declaring "Emergency" in the national capital and of police filing "false cases" against his party legislators.
Aam Admi Party (AAP) legislator Dinesh Mohaniya was arrested on charges of "sexual harassment" and sent to judicial custody. The complaint was filed by a woman who visited his office-cum residence in Sangam Vihar over water supply problems.
Mohaniya, an MLA from Sangam Vihar in south Delhi, was picked up by a Delhi Police team while he was addressing a press conference at his residence in the constituency.
The police action created a commotion at the venue with the personnel arriving right in front of live cameras and whisking away the MLA.
Mohaniya complained that he was taken "forcibly" and alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government was seeking to divert attention from the probe into the murder of NDMC estate officer M.M. Khan.
The AAP MLA was taken to Neb Sarai Police station in south Delhi. Police officials said there was a complaint against him by a woman of "touching her inappropriately". They said the woman was part of a group of 10-12 women who had complained of misbehaviour and manhandling while they had visited his office-cum-residence to inform him of problems in water supply.
Taking cognisance of the complaints, Delhi police booked Mohaniya under charges of manhandling, sexual harassment, inappropriately touching a woman and trying to disrobe her modesty.
Mohaniya was later produced before a duty magistrate in Saket court who directed that he be sent to judicial custody till June 27.
Kejriwal launched a frontal attack on Modi following Mohaniya's arrest,
"Modi declares emergency in Delhi. Arresting, raiding, terrorizing, filing false cases against all those whom Delhi elected," Kejriwal tweeted.
AAP leaders also addressed a press conference and said Mohaniya was the same person who had sought to expose BJP leader Sher Singh Dagar through a sting. "Dagar had tried to bribe him to join BJP, but Mohaniya exposed Dagar through a sting operation," AAP leader Raghav Chadha said.
"Today Dagar is free while Mohaniya has been arrested," he added.
AAP MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj said the BJP is making a mockery of the law.
"Can you imagine that an MLA in Delhi, of all the places, disrobing a woman in front of hundreds of party workers? This is beyond my imagination. The allegation of molestation against Mohaniya is false and this is witch-hunting by the Modi government," Bhardwaj told Times Now news channel.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alleged that the arrest of Mohaniya had exposed the "anti-women character" of AAP leaders.
"Arrest of Dinesh Mohaniya on allegations of slapping and harassing women has brought out in the open the anti-women character of the AAP leaders," BJP Delhi unit chief Satish Upadhyay said here.
Congress leader Sharmistha Mukherjee also slammed AAP.
"This kind of roguish behaviour is not acceptable. These cases should be seriously investigated. Nobody is above the law," she said.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Ishwar Singh said that initially they had charged Mohaniya under section 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the IPC which was levelled by the group of women in their complaint on Thursday.
"Later we added sections 354 A (making sexually coloured remarks or an offence of sexual harassment) and 354 B (act with intent to disrobe the modesty of a woman) of the IPC after two of the women independently gave their statements," the officer said.
He said a notice was given to Mohaniya on Friday evening and then again on Saturday morning to join police investigations but he "refused to accept" these. "We had to arrest him as he was not cooperating in the inquiry," the officer said.
He indicated that there could be more arrests in the case.
On Friday, a case was slapped on Mohaniya for allegedly slapping a 60-year-old man in Tughlakabad area of south Delhi when he had gone to meet people distressed over poor water supply in the area. Mohaniya is vice chairman of the Delhi Jal Board.