Two AAP MLAs were today arrested and sent to judicial custody in connection with an alleged assault on Delhi chief secretary Anshu Prakash as the row between legislators and bureaucrats in the city triggered a political slugfest, with parties levelling sharp charges against one other.
The ruling Aam Aadmi Party rejected the assault allegation and claimed its two legislators had been targeted because one was a Dalit and the other a member of a minority community.
While AAP maintained the assault charge was a move to malign the party's image, the police released the report of a medical examination of the chief secretary which said he had a "bruise" on his lower lip and "swelling" behind the ears.
In a move that may further exacerbate matters, members of a Delhi Assembly panel recommended privilege proceedings for contempt of House against Prakash after he skipped its meeting on an ongoing probe in alleged irregularities in a cooperative bank.
Members of the Question and Reference Committee, headed by Deputy Speaker Rakhi Birla, also recommended action against office-bearers of the IAS officers' association for asking bureaucrats to "boycott meetings", a charge denied by the association.
Delhi's bureaucrats, who said yesterday they would not hold meetings with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his ministers till he apologised, continued with their protest against the city government, with officers coming to work wearing black bands tied to their arms as a mark of outrage against the alleged attack.
Political parties cried foul over the alleged assault, too, with members of the Congress and BJP's Delhi units meeting Lt. Governor Anil Baijal to voice their concern.
The Congress delegation led by its Delhi chief Ajay Maken and former chief minister Sheila Dikshit urged Baijal to ensure security for administrative officers, while the BJP team led by Leader of Opposition Vijender Gupta demanded strong police action against Kejriwal, his deputy Manish Sisodia and nine other MLAs allegedly involved in the incident.
Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain also met Baijal and demanded action against those involved in an alleged assault on him at the Secretariat yesterday.
Baijal submitted a report on the incident regarding Prakash to the Home ministry today.
"The report from the LG has been received and it is under examination. Criminal aspects of the case are being taken care of by the Delhi Police, while the home ministry is looking into administrative issues such as misbehaviour with a government servant," a Home ministry official said.
AAP rejected the charges of assault by its MLAs with party leader Ashutosh saying Prakash had not produced any evidence against the two arrested MLAs, Prakash Jarwal and Amanatullah Khan.
He said an attempt was being made to malign the party's image.
"Eleven MLAs were present at the meeting at the chief minister's residence and yet only Prakash Jarwal, a Dalit MLA, and Amantullah Khan were arrested. Why," Ashutosh asked. Khan was arrested earlier in the day after he appeared at the Jamia Nagar police station. Deoli legislator Jarwal, who was detained last night, was also arrested, a police official said. They were later sent to judicial custody.
The police also questioned Delhi chief minister's adviser VK Jain for three hours about the alleged attack on Prakash, who was medically examined at the Aruna Asaf Ali hospital yesterday.
The medico legal case (MLC) report after Prakash's examination mentioned a "swelling" behind both ears and the cheek bone as well as a "bruise" on the lower lip.
Prakash had alleged yesterday that he was attacked by the AAP MLAs after he had been asked to attend a meeting at Kejriwal's residence late on Monday night.
The AAP raised an outcry over the arrest of its two MLAs.
"The BJP wants to finish off the Aam Aadmi Party by hatching conspiracies and the Centre wants to dismiss the AAP government in Delhi," party leader Sanjay SIngh said, claiming that the Delhi Police was working under pressure from the Home minister. Khan said before he was arrested that the BJP and the Congress were "out in the open" with their demand for dismissing the AAP government.
"There is no proof that the chief secretary was beaten up. On the contrary, our minister was beaten up, our volunteers were targeted but there is no action on this," Khan told reporters.
BJP's Gupta, after meeting the Lt Governor, demanded strong police action against Kejriwal, Sisodia and the other MLAs.
Gupta said the Kejriwal government was working like a "bunch of goondas" and deserved to be dismissed while asserting that the chief secretary's medical report exposed AAP's "web of lies and deceit".
Congress leader Maken said the delegation which met Baijal requested him to ensure the security of administrative officers to enable them to work with dignity and self respect.
Despite the political furore, it was business as usual at the Delhi Secretariat with bureaucrats, including Prakash, performing their duties as always, though no meetings were held with AAP ministers through the day.
Delhi's bureaucrats have said they will maintain written communication with the legislators.