'Stop politicising, punish rioters': Arvind Kejriwal seeks 'double punishment' for AAP leaders if involved in Delhi violence

FP Staff

Reacting to reports alleging involvement of AAP councillor Tahir Hussain in riots that took place in northeast Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal demanded the strictest punishment for those who indulged in violence, adding that if any AAP leaders are involved, then they will get double the punishment.

"Anybody who indulged in violence, whether from the Aam Aadmi Party, Congress or the BJP, should be taken to task. No rioter, whichever party they belong to, should be spared. And if those involved in riots are found to be from AAP, double punishment should be given," Kejriwal said on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, television news channels broadcast a video showing incriminating material stored at the rooftop of a house allegedly owned by Hussain. According to reports, Hussain has also been accused of involvement in the killing of Intelligence Bureau staffer Ankit Sharma.

At least 34 people have been killed and over 200 injured in spates of violence that started on 23 February.

Addressing a press conference on Thursday, Kejriwal slammed Opposition parties for politicising the violence, saying that the police should act against those responsible for the violence irrespective of political affiliation or religion.

"There should be no politics on national security. Please stop politicising the violence. Instead of asking people's view on the violence and those involved in it, you should be taking action against those who incited the violence," the Delhi chief minister said in an apparent reference to Union Minister Prakash Javadekar's statement blaming Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for the violence.

Javadekar had alleged that these parties were instigating people for the past two months. "Who started this? This did not happen in two days. People were being instigated for the past two months. After the Citizenship Amendment Act was passed on 11 December, Congress held a rally at Ramlila Maidan on 14 December where she said 'now we have to decide: Is paar ya us paar'. Is this not instigation?" he asked.

Javadekar also made references to speeches made by AAP legislator Amanatuallah Khan and the death of Sharma while accusing AAP and Congress of "selective silence".

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AAP leader Sanjay Singh also said that anyone found guilty of being involved in the Delhi riots should be punished irrespective of party or religion.

"From the very first day, AAP has been saying that any person, be it from any party or religion, action must be taken against them if found guilty," party leader Sanjay Singh told ANI.

AAP corporator denies involvement

On Wednesday, family members of Sharma had alleged that a few people, who were pelting stones from the building of Tahir Hussain in Chand Bagh, killed him. Sharma's father Ravinder Kumar has stated that his son was attacked while returning from his work.

Tahir, however, has denied his involvement in the act and has sought a thorough probe.

"I am very sad to hear about the death of IB officer Ankit Sharma. He should get justice. I am not involved in this incident. There should be a thorough investigation into this," Hussain told ANI.

"I worked to stop the violence. I am innocent. I stopped the people from climbing up my building. On 24 February, police conducted a search in my building and moved us out from there. Later, we shifted to a safe location. Till 4 pm on 25 February, police were present in the building," he said.

Sharma's body was recovered from a drain in Chand Bagh area on Wednesday.

He said the Delhi Police were present in the building after he requested the police force for the help.

"I requested the police to be present in the area as my building was being targeted and could be used for wrongful purposes. The Delhi Police personnel were present in the building. Only they can tell what exactly happened. I will fully cooperate with the police," said Hussain.

Kejriwal announces Rs 10 lakh for Delhi violence victims

Announcing immediate measures to provide relief to the violence-affected residents in the northeast district of the National Captial, Kejriwal said that the Delhi government will give Rs 10 lakh to families of those killed in riots and Rs 5 lakh to those seriously injured.

The chief minister also said that the Delhi govt will bear expenses of treatment of those injured in riots and admitted to private hospitals.