In a major security breach, a sachet of chilli powder was thrown at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Tuesday outside his chamber in Delhi Secretariat. The Aam Aadmi Party has described the attack as “politically motivated” while asserting that the BJP is hatching a conspiracy in collusion with Delhi Police to attack the chief minister.
Kejriwal was leaving home for lunch when a middle-aged man bowed before him, claiming he has some grievances. Within seconds, he hurled chilli powder at the CM around 2.30 pm. The man, identified as Anil Sharma, a resident of Narayana, has been detained. Sharma, whose Aadhaar card has been recovered, brought the chilli powder to the secretariat in packets of ‘khaini’, or chewing tobacco, PTI said quoting officials. After throwing red pepper powder on Kejriwal, Sharma threatened to shoot him after he comes out of jail, an official recounted.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said his party would not be “cowed down” by these “petty tactics” by the BJP. Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari, on the other hand, said such incidents “cannot be tolerated or justified by anybody” and called for a high-level probe.
Condemning the attack, the AAP said it was a “serious security lapse” from the Delhi Police. In a tweet, the party said “even the Chief Minister is not safe in Delhi.”
Spokesperson of the party Raghav Chadha said he was standing behind Kejriwal when the attack took place and even though “just the CM’s glasses fell to the floor and broke, (it was) an unacceptable security lapse nonetheless.”
“Imagine if attacker were to be wielding a more dangerous weapon. Who were to have prevented a tragedy from occurring?” he asked
As a chief minister, Kejriwal enjoys Z-plus security with 25 policemen guarding him round-the-clock.
According to PTI, officials close to Kejriwal accused the Delhi Police of being lax in providing him security and alleged that this was the third attempt to harm him in less than a month. The AAP alleged that water bottles were thrown at Kejriwal by Tiwari at the inauguration ceremony of Signature Bridge earlier this month.
Delhi Police, in a statement issued later, said the incident took place around 2.25 pm on the third floor of Delhi Secretariat. “When CM was coming out of his chamber, one person later identified as Anil tried to hand over his complaint to the chief minister who in turn passed it on to a staff member,” said the statement.
Police further said Anil bowed down to touch the feet of Kejriwal and the chief minister’s security tried to take him away but in the process Kejriwal’s spectacles fell. “Subsequently security personnel removed him aside and found him carrying a pouch in his hand, which got torn and apparently containing chilly powder.
“Sharma was visiting the Secretariat with reference of some staff. He has been detained for further questioning,” the statement added.
The Delhi government, however, has accused the Delhi police of hatching a conspiracy with the BJP. Party spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj alleged that police were trying to water down the seriousness of the attack on the chief minister.
“Delhi Police SHO tried to plant in Media “There was no attack, chilli packet just fell on the floor inadvertently”. Now you can imagine how deep rooted the conspiracy is,” Bhardwaj said in a tweet. The Delhi government later issued a rejoinder, accusing the Delhi Police of “lying on record” about the “premeditated attack” on the Delhi CM inside the Secretariat.
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah also reacted to the police’ version. “How does chilli powder that “falls from his hand” defy gravity & fall upwards into Arvind Kejriwal ji’s eyes,” he asked.
In 2016, Kejriwal faced a similar attack when a woman threw ink on him while he was delivering a speech at Chhatrasal Stadium, thanking civil defence volunteers and officials for “making the odd-even traffic policy successful”.