Khirki still with Bharti, taint on him doesn't stick

At the Khirki Extension colony in south Delhi, there is considerable sympathy for beleaguered AAP legislator Somnath Bharti who is facing domestic violence charges from his wife.

It is in this colony in his Malviya Nagar constituency that the former law minister conducted his controversial raid in 2013 against women from African nations – which raised an international storm over its allegedly racist overtones.

Baljit Singh, a resident of Khirki Extension, on Friday said despite the complaint filed by Bharti’s wife Lipika he has full faith in the leader.

“Such instances cannot dilute our support for him. It is not right to pass a judgment against Bharti at this stage,” said Singh.

Asha Bhandari, another area resident, also put her weight behind Bharti.
“He has been targeted because he is a public figure. He is paying a price for being popular,” she said, hinting at a conspiracy to tarnish the legislator’s image.

Some residents feel that Bharti’s personal life shouldn’t be mixed with his political life.
“He is a politician first and a family man later. No doubt such news is shocking, but it is his personal matter and one shouldn’t spoil his image just because his wife has filed a complaint,” said Anmol, another resident.

“We should wait for the investigation to be over and charges to be proved,” he added.
Some residents in the Khirki Extension – an unauthorised colony sandwiched between upscale malls in Saket and congested Malviya Nagar colony – favour action against Bharti if he has indeed done something wrong.

A woman, who did not wish to be named, said: “We don’t know about the truth in the complaint, but beating a women is wrong.”

“How can they (AAP) assure safety for women when one of their own leader is himself involved in such an appalling case of violence,” said the resident who has been living in Khirki Extension for a decade.

She acknowledged that Bharti tried to do his best for the colony but in the matter of domestic violence “it would be better if he himself resigns from the party if he has done something wrong”.

“A person of his repute shouldn't have committed such an offence. I am certain that something was wrong, only then his wife filed a complaint. No one goes to police without any reason,” she said.
Delhi Women Commission Chairperson Barkha Singh on Thursday alleged that apart from allegations of physical and verbal abuse, Lipika accused him of “forcing her to abort her unborn child”.

The Commission has asked Bharti to appear before the chairperson on June 26.
In 2013, Bharti had sparked a controversy with his midnight raids at the homes of African nationals accused of drug and sex trafficking at Khirki Extension.

The issue had landed before the Commission on that occasion also but the then law minister refused to appear before the panel.

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