- Delhi Police said attack could have been "unintentional"
- AAP accused police of "completely failing" to protect chief minister
- Attacker's Facebook page identifies him as a member of the BJP
When 40-year-old Anil Kumar Sharma entered the Delhi Secretariat complex on Tuesday afternoon, he was just another face among the thousands who drop by to get their grievances redressed everyday. A couple of hours later, he was all over the news.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was only just leaving for lunch from his third-floor chamber when Mr Sharma approached him with what looked like a letter and fell down on his feet. But no sooner had Mr Kejriwal taken the letter from him that Mr Sharma lunged forward and smeared chilli powder on his face. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) said the Chief Minister's eyes were spared only because of his glasses, which -- unfortunately -- did not survive the ordeal.
The incident led to yet another verbal altercation, with the Delhi Police saying that the attack could have been "unintentional" and the AAP government accusing the former of "completely failing" to protect the Chief Minister. Mr Sharma was charged only by Tuesday night, around eight hours after the attack.
But in the melee, some questions remained unanswered. Who is Mr Sharma, how did he succeed in entering the Delhi Secretariat armed with his little packet of chilli powder, and why exactly did he attack the Chief Minister?
PTI quoted sources as saying that the attacker had entered the government complex on the pretext of approaching Public Grievance Monitoring System (PGMS) officials on behalf of an ailing relative. Crossing the first hurdle -- the Delhi Secretariat's reception -- was not difficult. "Anil Sharma was seeking help for an ailing relative. He was issued a pass after the authorities received a call from the PGMS office located in the building," an official said.
Next, he had to pass through gate number 6, where men and women are separately frisked before being let in. Mr Kumar apparently succeeded in taking the chilli powder inside the high-security establishment in a packet of chewing tobacco, something that AAP leaders termed as a "major security lapse" on the part of the centre-controlled Delhi Police. "What if he was carrying a weapon?" Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia asked at a press conference, alleging a "conspiracy" between the BJP and the Delhi Police.
Incidentally, the attack took place a day after the Chief Minister reviewed the functioning of the PGMS and directed department heads to treat people's complaints on priority.
Mr Sharma's Facebook page identifies him as a student of NREC College in Uttar Pradesh's Khurja and a member of the BJP. His political views are also decidedly right-wing, with some posts calling for the early construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya and others lambasting everybody from Mr Kejriwal to Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav.
The attacker was heard criticising the Delhi Chief Minister even while he was being dragged away by the police. "Arvind Kejriwal is a traitor and the BJP is a party of true patriots," Mr Sharma screamed, adding that he was a true patriot too.
However, even the BJP did not seem to approve of his actions on Tuesday. "Such incidents cannot be tolerated or justified by anybody. This calls for a high-level probe," Manoj Tiwari -- the head of the party's Delhi unit -- said, condemning the attack.
(With inputs from PTI)