New Delhi: The Delhi Police has suspended the station house officer (SHO) of Adarsh Nagar police station, C. P. Bhardwaj, a week after he prevented a group of Hindutva activists from harassing a maulvi of a mazar on a flyover in Delhi. A video of the incident was widely viewed and commented about on social media.
Though Delhi Police claims that Bharadwaj is being suspended for ‘dereliction of duty’ and that there are a number of ‘complaints’ against him, the suspension order is being seen as linked to the viral video in which the officer is seen confronting the activists who appear exercised about the ‘unauthorised’ shrine.
In the video, the SHO sternly tells the Hindutva group members even as they continue filming not to confront the maulvi. Any complaints about unauthorised religious structures, SHO Bharadwaj tells them, can be made by approaching the appropriate committee of the Delhi government and not by creating a scene in public.
‘Suspended for lack of duty compliance’
On Wednnesday, the ANI news agency, quoting Delhi Police, said, the officer was “suspended for lack of duty compliance (sic) and in view of several complaints against him”. The additional public relations officer of Delhi police, Anil Mittal, repeated the same explanation when contacted by The Wire, adding that the North District police had mentioned this as the reason for Bharadwaj’s suspension.
The Wire tried to contact the deputy commissioner of police (North District), Usha Rangani, for her comments on the suspension, but she was not reachable on phone. The story will be updated as soon as more inputs are received.
Hindutva youths confront maulvi
The viral video which many believe is the real reason for the SHO’s suspension shows two activists confronting a maulvi near a mazar on a flyover, while another captures the incident on camera. In the video, one of them, wearing spectacles and a saffron cloth around his neck, is seen questioning the ‘maulvi’, who is wearing a green cap, while another holds the microphone and asks an occasional question.
The video, marked ‘News Exclusive’, was shared on social media on August 4. It begins with the ‘maulvi’ explaining that “the new flyovers came up in 2009” and that the earlier one was constructed ahead of the Asian Games in 1982. He then says that this was told to him by his elders, who have since passed away.
As the maulvi says that he cannot bring the dead back and asks the man with the saffron scarf his age, the latter replies that he is 26 years old. The youth then, in turn, asks the Muslim man, “How old are you…where do you live?”. To which, he replies that he is 35 and that he resides at that very spot.
The youth with the saffron scarf then asks the maulvi where he prepares his food and where his children live. To which, the latter points to a nearby place saying “in the mandi (wholesale market) there”.
Thereafter, as the youth with the saffron scarf asks the maulvi, “how many such mazars of yours are running like this”, the video shows the SHO of Adarsh Nagar stepping in.
The officer immediately identifies himself as SHO Adarsh Nagar and asks the youth with the saffron scarf, who is apparently conducting the ‘interview’, “Who has given you the right that you put a citizen of India under such duress”.
Revealing his name as C.P. Bharadwaj, the police officer tells the man that “if you have to take any recourse, it has to be a legal recourse”. Then looking into the camera on the youth’s request, the SHO said: “According to a Supreme Court ruling, the Delhi government has established a religious committee to settle (disputes or complaints around) such structures.”
Then pointing to the youth with the saffron scarf, he says, “If this gentleman has any problem, he shall move a representation to the Delhi government”.
At this juncture, the man holding the boom again asks the officer if the Delhi government has constituted a committee. To this, the SHO again patiently replies in the affirmative, saying “in the committee, any such structure is reviewed, the views of all the stakeholders are taken and if any structure is found to be obstructing any interest, be it of vehicular flow, it is then shifted”.
At this the youth with the saffron scarf is seen arguing with the officer that “what about the razing of the temple in Chandni Chowk, what do you have to say about it”. His charge is that the temple was razed overnight by the police and administration.
This time the officer replies authoritatively that “you please speak to me about the constitutional arrangement”. He then cautions the youth that “you will not bully any citizen or religious person like this. You have no right”. He also then threatens legal action against the group of activists and says: “I am giving you a stern warning, gentlemen.”
However, when the saffron-wearing youth persists with his argument, the officer becomes aggressive, and while pushing the youth back, directs his staff to take him away.
Action against ‘upright’ SHO evokes a strong response
Delhi Police’s action against Bharadwaj has evoked a sharp response, with many on social media accusing the force of persecuting him for taking the correct stand.
Journalist and founder of Janta Ka Reporter, Rifat Jawaid, asked through a tweet if this is how rule of law would be established in India.