SC to hear PILs against Kejriwal's street protests on Friday

The Supreme Court today agreed to hear two public interest litigations (PILs) seeking action against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the state's law minister Somnath Bharti for creating chaos in India's capital, even as Kejriwal threatened to escalate the disruptions by going on in a 10-day sit-in protest seeking the sacking of a few Delhi Police personnel.

A bench of the apex court bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam said it would hear the PILs on Friday. Two advocates have filed separate petitions, both to the effect that the chief minister of a state is supposed to maintain law and order but Kejriwal was instead creating a law and order problem.

Meanwhile, attendance on the second day of Kejriwal's sit-in, with well-publicised photos of him curling up on the street on a cold January night, was much stronger than on Monday, with hundreds of AAP supporters thronging to Rail Bhavan in the heart of New Delhi, where the government works and lives in pristine surroundings amid high security.

Kejriwal today told newspersons that he and his supporters would flood Rajpath, the venue for Republic Day celebrations on 26 January, with lakhs of supporters to demand action against policemen who refused to carry out a raid on an alleged drug and prostitution ring.

He ruled out any negotiating with the central government to scale down the protest, saying the safety of women in the capital is ''not a matter of negotiation''.

"We will continue our protest. How can home minister Shinde sleep when so many crimes are happening in Delhi? When women are unsafe in the city? We won't negotiate," Kejriwal said reporters.

Sushilkumar Shinde is the union home minister. He was formerly the chief minister of Maharashtra; recently the Central Bureau of Investigation cleared him of charges in Mumbai's infamous 'Adarsh' housing scam.

Chief minister Kejriwal along with six cabinet colleagues and scores of supporters spent the night outside the Rail Bhavan; some of his supporters spent the night singing songs and raising slogans around a bonfire.

"If the demands are not met then lakhs of our supporters will come to Rajpath. They (the centre) must listen to the people," Kejriwal said.

He added that he would not shift his protest to the more open and public Jantar Mantar grounds, as requested by the police.

"Have the people of Delhi given them (the union government) the right to make decisions for them? No. They have given me the right. How can Shinde ask me where to sit? I will tell him where to sit," he said, already showing signs of hubris.

The chief minister also accused the police of harassing his supporters at the protest venue. "They have turned this small area into a jail. There are not toilets here. I was using a toilet at Rail Bhavan here yesterday (Monday). Today they have even closed that. We had arranged a public toilet somehow yesterday which they did not allow to bring here. They are even not allowing food to be brought here. I had to go to the barricade myself to bring the tea inside.

''The people protesting here are not Pakistanis or Americans. They are our own people. Where will the women go for using a toilet? Has Shinde announced a war against the people?" he asked.

"Someone was telling me that a window was broken by protestors at Shinde's residence few months ago, and as a consequence 12 policemen were suspended. When a woman is raped, he says we will get an inquiry done but won't suspend the police," he said.

He did not of course mention that his own state law minister and party supporters more than harassed some foreign women whom they accused of taking and dealing in drugs and forcibly sent for medical tests, which found them drug-free. A couple of the cops he wants suspended refused to obey demands by a few AAP members to take action against the women, whereupon the AAP cadres themselves acted vigilante.

"He (Shinde) is saying that we will celebrate Republic Day, but for whom? The VIPS will watch the parades. That is not Republic Day celebration.
 
"A woman was burnt but police is not arresting anyone as they will first get an inquiry done. RK Singh was right in saying that it is money which reaches the top," he said.

Asking Shinde to support the common man's cause, the chief minister claimed that there will be "rebellion" in Delhi Police as lower level police officials were with AAP.

"A man resigned and came to join us. He had tears in his eyes. Another man who was shouting slogans in our favour was suspended. There will be a rebellion in Delhi Police too," he said.