A chaotic Saturday at Kejriwal's darbar

A chaotic Saturday at Kejriwal's darbar

It was a chaotic Saturday for thousands of people who came with their grievances at the first of its kind 'janta darbar' organised by the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government outside Delhi Secretariat today.

The entire Delhi Cabinet was present at the public hearing to attend grievances of the citizens. The venue, meant to cater only 1000 people, was bursting at seams even as 500 Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) personnel and scores of Delhi policemen tried to manage the crowd.

People from all over Delhi had started gathering at the venue as early as 6 AM for the event that was to start at 9:30 AM.

A stampede-like situation prevailed with barricades at some places broken down by the crowd. So much so that Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had to leave the venue midway due to security concerns .

Hundreds of people surrounded him with many of them standing on chairs to get a glimpse of him. However, amidst all the confusion, his council of ministers comprising Manish Sisodia, Rakhi Birla, Somnath Bharti, Saurabh Bhardwaj and Girish Soni patiently listened to the problems of the public and gave them receipts acknowledging that their complaints had been received.

Senior government officials from various departments as well as those of DDA, police and three MCDs were also present at the venue.

The crowd mostly comprised contractual workers from various government departments like DTC, power company BSES, different government hospitals and municipal corporations demanding permanent status.

The cops remained silent spectators to impromptu sloganeering and sit-in dharnas by various contractual workers associations who blocked the road, making the movement of others difficult.

In the three-ring circus, there were also hundreds of "happy" people who could register their complaints.

Sunita Kapoor from Mandawali in east Delhi reached the secretariat at 6 AM. She met Kejriwal and complained about alleged unauthorised occupation of her flat. "I have been assured by the Chief Minister that I will be helped in the matter," she told PTI.

Murli Dhar, President, Economy Radio Taxi Drivers Association, who met Transport Minister Saurabh Bhardwaj said he had been assured by him that they will be called back to discuss the matter.

"This government has given us hope that our problems can be resolved. This is a good beginning," Dhar said.

A number of people who came to the Janta Darbar said they were "dejected" but have not lost hope.

Despite not being able to meet the Chief Minister due to the rush, differently abled since birth, 24-year-old Mamata Sharma, a class 10 student, was not disheartened.

Holding a rose in her hand, she waited outside the Secretariat till 3.30 PM in the hope that she will be able to gift the flower to the CM who was her "inspiration".

"Kejriwal Sir is my inspiration and I also want to become an IAS officer. I had not come here with any complaint, but to congratulate him and gift him this rose. But, I just couldn't manage to reach him in thsi crowd because of my physical limitations.

"This flower was blooming when I had come in the morning, but gradually petals fell off and now only few are left," Sharma said.

A visually impaired person who came to the event complained of mismanagement, which was also admitted to by Kejriwal as he apologised to the people and promised of better arrangements the next time.

"No system is in place. I came here after travelling for two hours only to learn that the Chief Minister has left," the person added, disappointment writ large on his face.

He requested the CM to make better arrangements specially for women, senior citizens and disabled people.

"We came here with a demand to fulfil backlog vacancies and to introduce scholarships for the disabled," he said.

Bitto had come all the from Ramesh Nagar in west Delhi on his electric wheel chair to meet the Chief Minister.

"I want to open a shop of my own. Nobody gives me work as I have polio. I had tried to meet Sheila Dikshit ji during her tenure, but couldn't meet her. Today I thought my wish will come true but when I reached here I just couldn't make my way in the crowed," he said.

However, he said that he is confident that Kejriwal will solve his problem.

There were many people from outside Delhi too who had come to Kejriwal with their grievances. There were some from Haryana, Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan who had come to attend the Janta Darbar with their complaints.

Dr Sangeeta Singh had come with her 70-year-old mother with a complaint of property dispute against her brother.

"No one has been listening to us in our state, that is why we have come here with our complaint to meet Kejriwal," she said.

Among the scores of people, was also an alleged gangrape victim from Burari who had come with family members, wearing a burkha demanding the arrest of two culprits.

She was allegedly gangraped in December 19, 2013 following which an FIR was registered.

"We have come here for justice. The two culprits are yet to be arrested despite their names being there in the FIR. Every other day they threaten us. We want strict action to be initiated against them," her brother said.

Later, on the directions of Law Minister Somnath Bharti, she was escorted by the police to the ITO police station where her statement was recorded.

"Some police at the ITO police station recorded our statement. But we don't what will happen next," he said.

The AAP government's much-talked-about first 'janta darbar' suffered under  mismanagement but Kejriwal promised better arrangements next time and said people's grievances will be addressed effectively.

"Go back home now. Give us some time to streamline the system. We will address all your grievances. We will make better arrangements next time," Kejriwal, who stood on the boundary wall of the Secretariat, told the crowd after making a second entry into the venue.

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