New Delhi: Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti's attempt to carry out a surprise raid on what he alleged was a drug and prostitution ring ended in an unseemly roadside argument between the minister and the Delhi Police and is now snowballing into a controversy.
The police allege Mr Bharti tried to force them to conduct a search on a building late on Wednesday night without a warrant, and question women, which is prohibited after dark. The minister says in "emergency situations", a warrant is not necessary.
The law minister, who maintained that alleged sex workers were hiding in the building, is seen arguing loudly with a police officer on camera. "You go in and raid,", Mr Bharti is seen ordering the policeman, who keeps saying, "You are not letting us work. Let us do our job."
Mr Bharti said on receiving people's complaints about "Nigerian nationals involved in sex trade and drugs" at the building in Khirki Extension, which is in his constituency in south Delhi, he had decided to "catch them red-handed", along with the police.
"The police left us here. They are not ready to search, they are not ready to raid. They didn't even listen to me, the law minister. Will they listen to people? The girls tried to run away. But we caught two of them," he said. He claims that people could be heard discussing 'rates for girls."
One of the women, a Nigerian national, was sent for a medical test to the AIIMS hospital and has reportedly been found drug-free. The police have set up a probe and will report to Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung.
The 39-year-old minister has been in the news lately for more than one controversy. Two days ago, he fended off allegations that as a defence lawyer in a case last year, he had tampered with evidence.
Mr Bharti was also criticised for trying to call judges for a meeting just after taking charge last month, and berating his Law Secretary when told that the judiciary could not be summoned this way.