New Delhi: Delhi Police on Tuesday night arrested a man for allegedly throwing chilli powder at chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, hours after suggesting that it may have fallen out of his hand and the attack may have been unintentional.
A case was registered against Anil Kumar against sections 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions) of the Indian Penal Code.
Officials said that a conginisable offence was made out after preliminary inquiry was conducted. As the accused has threatened the CM, he was interrogated by a joint team of Intelligence Bureau, special cell and local police, they said.
The Aam Aadmi Party had lashed out at the Delhi Police earlier in the evening after it seemed to suggested that the chilli powder may have fallen out of the attacker’s hand.
In a statement, Delhi Police had said that Kumar had come to meet the CM to share his grievances. “He handed a note to the CM and touched his feet, and chilli powder fell down from his hand. Probe underway whether it was an attack or powder fell unintentionally,” the statement added, despite an alarming video showing Kumar trying to smear the powder on the Delhi CM's face.
Calling the statement “extremely shocking”, AAP said Delhi Police was spreading lies under political pressure instead of owning up to the security lapse. “The security of the Delhi Secretariat is the responsibility of Delhi Police and there have been numerous incidents of security breaches in the recent past,” the party said.
It asked how the attacker was able to enter the Delhi Secretariat, a high-security zone, with a packet of chilli powder and matchbox unchecked and whether there was any checking at all.
The party also wondered whether Delhi Police was aware of what the consequences could have been had this attacker carried any other weapon with him. “Has Delhi Police instructed its personnel posted at Delhi Secretariat to turn a blind eye towards visitors entering Delhi Secretariat so that ministers & CM can be attacked at will?” it asked.
The party added that the Delhi government would explore all legal options to deal with the situation.
It found the backing from National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, who asked on Twitter “how the chilli powder that ‘falls from his hand’ defy gravity and fall upwards into @ArvindKejriwal ji’s eyes?” The tweet was also retweeted by AAP’s official twitter handle.
This is how Delhi CM @ArvindKejriwal was attacked outside of his office at Delhi Secretariat.Isn’t it a big security lapse?@DelhiPolice,who is accountable ? pic.twitter.com/5S89gqZhrA— Aam Aadmi Party Delhi (@AAPDelhi) November 20, 2018
The AAP also alleged that the BJP was hatching a conspiracy in collusion with Delhi Police to attack the chief minister. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said his party would not be "cowed" by these "petty tactics" by the BJP.
Officials said Kumar was targeting the bespectacled chief minister's eyes. Kejriwal's spectacles broke but his eyes seemed to have been spared any damage, they added.
Kumar, whose Aadhaar card has been recovered, brought the chilli powder to the secretariat in packets of 'khaini', or chewing tobacco, they said. After throwing red pepper powder on Kejriwal, Kumar threatened to shoot him after he comes out of jail, an official recounted.
The incident took place outside the chief minister's chamber on the third floor when he was leaving for lunch around 2.25 pm.
AAP's national spokesperson Raghav Chadha, who was behind Kejriwal when the incident took place tweeted, "Was right behind CM @ArvindKejriwal at the Secretariat when he was suddenly attacked, on 3rd floor right outside his office. Shocking lapse of security. Is this Delhi Police's incompetent effort to protect an elected CM?
Officials close to Kejriwal accused the Delhi Police of being lax in providing him security and alleged that this was the third attempt to harm him in less than a month.
The AAP alleged that water bottles were thrown at Kejriwal by Tiwari at the inauguration ceremony of Signature Bridge earlier this month. "Around the time of Dussehra, an unidentified man had barged inside Kejriwal's residence and had tried to attack the CM," AAP leader Saurabh Bhardwaj said.
Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari said if the chilli powder attack on Kejriwal was not fabricated, then it is condemnable and sought a high-level inquiry into it.
However, he said that the deputy chief minister's statement equating this incident with that on the Signature Bridge during its inauguration on November 10 shows that it is only a drama.
"If the incident is not fabricated, then it is certainly condemnable. But the statement of the deputy chief minister that this attack is like the attack at the Signature Bridge shows that this is only a drama.
"It seems that this attack has been carried out at the instance of the chief minister to divert attention from AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan's attack on me and also to cover-up the sins of the AAP," Tiwari alleged.