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DCW Chief 'Dragged & Molested': Who Gains Political Points in BJP-AAP Slugfest?

DCW chairperson Swati Maliwal alleged that she was molested and dragged by a car for a few metres.

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The alleged molestation of the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chairperson, Swati Maliwal, on the night of Wednesday, 18 January, has triggered a full-blown political slugfest, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) terming the incident an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) "drama" to "defame the Delhi Police."

On Thursday, 19 January, Maliwal – an AAP appointee – tweeted that she was doing an inspection on women's safety near AIIMS in Delhi the previous night when a drunk man allegedly molested her and dragged her with his car for a few metres.

Shortly after, a video of the incident – allegedly shot by a news channel – surfaced, which many BJP leaders were quick to describe as "staged." BJP leaders further claimed that the accused, Harish Chandra Suryavanshi, is a "prominent AAP worker in Sangam Vihar."

Even as both parties accuse each other of playing "dirty politics" in the name of women's safety, the ball is in the AAP's court. Has the incident cost the party a few political points? What has the BJP gained from it? And most importantly, have the allegations managed to dilute the issue of women's safety in the capital?

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What BJP & AAP Said

A day after the incident was reported, Delhi BJP working president Virendra Sachdeva on Friday, 20 January, tweeted a picture of the accused Harish Chandra, claiming he was seen campaigning with AAP MLA Prakash Jarwal.

Other BJP leaders, including Shazia Ilmi, Meenakshi Lekhi, and Manoj Tiwari, also claimed that the incident was the AAP's attempt to throw mud at the Delhi Police.

Later, on Saturday, the Delhi BJP even demanded that Maliwal be suspended from her post for a "fair probe" into her molestation charges.

Responding to the allegations, the DCW chief tweeted that no one can scare her "by telling dirty lies."

"Let me tell those who think that they will scare me by telling dirty lies about me. I have done many big things in this short life by tying a shroud on my head. I had many attacks but I did not stop. With every atrocity the fire inside me grew stronger. No one can suppress my voice. I will keep fighting as long as I am alive!"
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AAP leaders, including Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and MLA Atishi Singh, meanwhile, slammed Delhi Lieutenant-Governor VK Saxena for "failing" to maintain law and order in the capital.

"L-G has 100 percent responsibility for law and order. If DCW president Swati Maliwal can be harassed, then which woman in the city is safe? Women can’t leave the house after 8 pm," Atishi said in a press meeting.

Kejriwal tweeted:

"LG Sahib, your job is to handle Delhi's law and order, Delhi Police and DDA. Our job is to work on all other subjects of Delhi. You do your work, let us do ours. Only then the system will work. If you leave your work and interfere in our work everyday, then how will the system work?"

The AAP, however, has not reacted to the BJP's claims of the accused being a member of its own party.

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Bone of Contention

Control over the Delhi Police has been a bone of contention between the AAP-led Delhi government and the BJP-led Centre for years now.

In 2018, the Delhi government passed a resolution demanding that the Delhi Police be brought under the control of the elected government, citing "anarchy in the capital."

Recently, citing the Kanjhawala incident – in which a 20-year-old woman, Anjali, died after allegedly being dragged by a car for several kilometers – AAP MLAs yet again demanded that the force be placed under the administrative control of the government.

AAP MLA Rituraj even suggested that a separate "NDMC police" force (New Delhi Municipal Council) be created for the Centre with jurisdiction limited to New Delhi, and that another force under the Delhi government be created for the rest of the city, according to The Federal.

The BJP, according to the AAP, has been opportunistic in dismissing Maliwal's molestation attempt as a "conspiracy" – because it absolves the Delhi Police and itself from any responsibility over this incident.

Moreover, it also helps them invalidate the AAP's demand for control over law and order in the capital.

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'A Matter of Women's Safety'

The Delhi Police said in a statement that the accused, who was in an inebriated state, was promptly apprehended within 23 minutes after the incident.

They said that a patrol vehicle spotted Maliwal on the pavement opposite AIIMS around 3.05 am, and after she narrated her ordeal, the police tracked the car down and arrested Harish Chandra.

Many BJP leaders also lauded the Delhi Police's prompt action, "because it was a matter of women's safety."

The DCW, however, claimed in an interview with a news channel that multiple calls to the 112 helpline had failed when the accused approached her in his car.

After her complaint, another woman also came forward, stating she was also allegedly harassed by the same accused, Harish Chandra, a few days ago.

The Quint has reached out to Maliwal, and this article will be updated when she responds.

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The real question, therefore, is whether the ongoing political narrative is diluting the issue of women's safety in the capital?

On one hand, the BJP is trying to whitewash the law and order situation in the national capital, and on the other hand, the AAP may have ended up creating doubts about its claims.

So, who's the real loser here?

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  AAP   Molestation   Drunken Driving 

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