The Delhi Police on Sunday arrested Delhi Congress president Anil Chaudhary for allegedly violating lockdown orders. He was later released on bail. According to the police, Chaudhary was asked to remain home and refrain from visiting the Ghazipur border in east Delhi, but he is alleged to have mobilised migrant workers and visited the spot.
The deputy commissioner of police (east), Jasmeet Singh, said Chaudhary was booked under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code for violating the provisions of the lockdown.
Chaudhary said he was at Ghazipur to help migrant workers with food and water. “If this is the crime that I am being booked for, then all the Congress workers and I will keep committing this crime,” he said.
A senior police officer, who did not want to be named, said Chaudhary and his workers had visited Ghazipur on Saturday night, after which the gathering of migrant labourers swelled suddenly. Many of them had also hidden in trucks and tempos arriving at the Ghazipur vegetable market, according to the officer.
“After a lot of efforts overnight, we managed to disperse the crowd and the situation was controlled. There were allegations that many migrant workers were being transported across Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border with the help of people with links to political parties. As a precautionary measure, we placed Chaudhary under preventive detention and asked him not to visit the area until the situation is completely under control,” the officer said.
Chaudhary said that on Sunday morning, a team of police officials came to his house and detained him without any reason. “They kept asking me why I went to the Ghazipur border yesterday (Saturday). I was there with some Congress workers to try to help the migrant labourers there with food and water. We saw that one of the women there was pregnant and went into labour, and our workers took her to Dr Hedgewar Arogya Sansthan, which was nearby,” said Chaudhary.
He said, “We have been working to help the migrant labourers for several weeks now. We have also converted our state unit office into a shelter facility for them.”
The Delhi Congress lashed out at the police and the Central government for taking action against those helping the poor during the ongoing crisis. “This (helping the migrant labourers) is the job that the government should be doing. But they are not even allowing other people to help them. This is the time when the migrant workers need our help and support. Help from anywhere should be accepted and appreciated. Instead of doing that, you are sending the police after them,” said Abhishek Dutt, vice-president of the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee.
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) national secretary, RP Singh, said that help from all quarters is welcome, but people have to follow the law. “If they want to help people, then they should. But they should take necessary permission from the subdivisional magistrate. There is no point blaming the Centre or the police, as law has been put in place to fight the contagious disease. Police officials are just following the law. The Congress is unnecessarily politicising the issue. The present rules in Delhi have the approval of the state government, which is not under the BJP.”