AAP protest threatens R-Day security

Concerns were raised over security for the Republic Day parade following protests by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, with top officials getting into a huddle to find a way to remove Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders from the demonstration site.

 Kejriwal and his ministers, along with supporters, started a 10-day protest near Rail Bhavan, less than 100 metres from Rajpath, where VVIPs and commoners gather to view the parade.

Security establishments were worried over the assembly at the protest site in the coming days, after Kejriwal refused to shift his protest to Jantar Mantar saying it was for the Centre to find a way to conduct national celebrations.

With final rehearsals for the parade underway, the security apparatus was sanitising the 1.5-km stretch from Vijay Chowk to India Gate. But, the influx of protesters could be a headache.  Sources said top officials fear that some miscreant posing as a protester could enter the area, posing security threats.

Kejriwal wanted to stage his protest outside North Block, the seat of the Home Ministry, demanding that control over the Delhi Police be handed over to the Delhi government and suspension of four police personnel who had a tiff with two AAP ministers.

As Kejriwal announced a war against the Delhi Police, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde asked the chief minister to maintain dignity of his office.

“After all, he is a chief minister, which is a high post. He should cooperate,” Shinde said, adding that Kejriwal should wait for the outcome of a judicial inquiry into the tiff between police officers and ministers Somnath Bharti and Rakhi Birla.  The home minister added that there was no interference in the probe.

“After Nirbhaya, we said there should be Section 144 always in Vijay Chowk and nearby areas. If they want to protest, they should go to Jantar Mantar,” Shinde said.

He also ruled out handing over reins of the Delhi Police to the state administration, citing example of the US, where Washington was under the control of the federal government.
“The demand for handing over the Delhi Police to the Delhi government is an old one. Like in the US, the concept is that the capital is under the Centre. This is not possible,” he said. Shinde also dared former home secretary R K Singh to substantiate his charges, including that of him taking money against doling out police postings.

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