New Delhi: Amid a growing controversy over his "midnight raid" and demands for his resignation, Delhi Law Minister Somanth Bharti today accused the media of taking money from BJP leaders to defame him. When asked if he would resign on moral grounds, he even asked a reporter, "How much money have you got from (Narendra) Modi?" The minister later apologised but added that his statement "was being misinterpreted." Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal said his comments were "inappropriate."
Here are the 10 big developments in this story:
- During his brief interaction with reporters, the minister had also condemned the Delhi Commission for Women and said its move to demand an FIR against him was "politically motivated." "The women's commission is political. Barkha Singh (DCW chairperson) is a member of the Congress. She should have resigned when the Congress lost," he said. (Watch video)
- Rejecting Mr Bharti's allegations, Ms Singh has said her commission acts on all complaints it receives. "I am just doing my work. On what basis is he asking for my resignation? He is the one who has insulted women. He should resign," she said.
- The BJP says Mr Bharti's comments are indicative of AAP ministers' "frustration." "This is very shameful and unfortunate. The Law Minister has been insulting the system, women, lawyers, police and now even the media. This shows his intellectual bankruptcy. He must resign, otherwise, Delhi chief minister must sack him," said BJP's Dr Harsh Vardhan.
- The women's rights panel plans to meet Lt Governor Najeeb Jung to demand that an FIR be registered against the minister who failed to appear before it yesterday to explain charges that he and his supporters had mistreated African women during the raid last week.
- Mr Bharti skipped the meeting and instead chose to attend a kite festival in the capital. His party had said in a statement yesterday that his "official engagement" was scheduled much in advance. To represent him at the panel, Mr Bharti sent his lawyers who had a public confrontation with the head of the commission, Barkha Singh. In a statement issued later in the day, AAP said, "The attempts by the DCW chairperson, who is a former MLA of the Congress party, to create a controversy on the issue clearly shows her political intentions."
- Mr Bharti was summoned by the panel to explain his controversial "midnight raid". Last week, surrounded by supporters, he ordered police officers to raid homes rented by Ugandan women in his constituency, claiming that they were being used to traffic drugs and sex. Mr Bharti's supporters also allegedly forced some of the women to give urine samples for drug tests.
- During the raid, the minister had organized for cameras to accompany him; the footage shows him arguing with police officers who refused to arrest the women without warrants.
- That confrontation provoked a two-day protest in the heart of Delhi by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and other leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party who say the encounter proves that the city's police force is indifferent to women's safety and ignores the state government because it reports to the union Home Ministry.
- A police case has been filed by a Ugandan woman against the controversial "midnight raid" by Mr Bharti, though he is not named in the First Information Report or FIR. Seven women have deposed in court in connection with the case. One of them has identified Mr Bharti as the leader of a mob that beat and molested them; she has asked for a second case to be registered against Mr Bharti. The police told a court in Delhi today that a second FIR wasn't filed as the petitioner has already been questioned by the investigating officer and her statement has also been recorded.
- Mr Bharti's Aam Aadmi Party or AAP has defended him, claiming that in the unedited footage of his raid, he does not demonstrate racist behaviour, does not manhandle the women, and does not misuse his office as a minister.