Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today mounted an unprecedented confrontation with the Centre demanding action against some police officials while asking the honest among them to take leave and join the dharna near the seat of power in the heart of the capital.
Unfazed by criticism that he was unleashing anarchy on the streets of the capital, Kejriwal said "I am an anarchist" and have come prepared for a 10-day protest which could prolong further.
The Centre also toughened its stand rejecting the demand for immediate action saying anything can be done only after a proper inquiry which was on. Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde also ruled out Delhi Police coming under the purview of the Delhi government.
This is probably the first time a chief minister and his cabinet is holding a dharna on the streets that looks like it may be a prolonged affair.
"We will not move out," Kejriwal said after a senior police official asked them to move to nearby Jantar Mantar, the place from where Kejriwal and Anna Hazare had launched an anti-corruption campaign two years ago.
The trigger for the agitation that has disrupted life close to the vicinity of central government's seat of power, the Raisina Hill, is Delhi Police's refusal to raid an alleged drug and prostitution ring in an area under Law Minister Somnath Bharti's constituency of Malviya Nagar.
Bharti had himself led a team of AAP supporters past midnight on Wednesday last week and demanded a raid but police on the spot refused to do his bidding.
Accusing police of taking bribes and making money while compromising the safety of women, Kejriwal demanded that central government suspend four officials who refused to act on the minister's orders.
Sensing an opportunity ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, Kejriwal, who is also convener of AAP, decided to escalate the confrontation by brining all his ministers to sit on dharna in defiance of the prohibitory orders in force in the area.
'MLA Brutally Beaten Up'
Delhi Police rushed around 4,000 of its men and women but scuffles broke out between them and AAP volunteers outside Rail Bhavan, the dharna site where Kejriwal was holding the dharna along with six ministers.
The incident occurred when police disconnected Kejriwal's audio system prompting angry response from the AAP supporters. The police pushed some of the supporters when they tried to break barricades.
In the evening, a number of AAP leaders including Sanjay Singh and former journalist Ashutosh were seen having heated arguments with police for allegedly beating a number of their supporters including Model Town MLA Akhilesh Tripathi.
They also claimed that Transport Minister Saurabh Bhardwaj had been detained by police, which denied it.
In a tweet, Kejriwal said Tripathi was beaten up by the police "brutally". An AAP leader said Tripathi had to be admitted to a hospital.
Around 3,000 security personnel including from ITBP and Rapid Action Force were deployed around the protest venue.
The leave of all Delhi Police personnel has been cancelled to deal with the situation.
The Chief Minister attacked functioning of police saying the streets of Delhi are not safe for women.
Asked about the law and order situation, a senior police official said "We will do everything possible to maintain law and order."
On whether Kejriwal and his supporters will be evicted forcibly in the night, the official refused to reveal the "strategy" in public.
Kejriwal said his protest will not affect governance as he will clear files from the protest site.
While attacking the police he appealed to the honest among them to take leave and join his protest.
'I Agree I Am An Anarchist'
"Some people are saying that I am an anarchist. I am spreading disorder. I agree I am an anarchist. Today, I will create anarchy for Shinde," he said in an impromptu address to his party MLAs and supporters.
Earlier in the morning, Kejriwal along with his supporters attempted to go to North Block housing the Home Ministry to lodge their protest. However, they were stopped near the Rail Bhavan as the nearby Vijay Chowk and the entire Rajpath were sealed for the Republic Day rehearsal that was going on.
In his address to his MLAs and supporters, Kejriwal put the blame squarely on the Prime Minister, Home Minister and the Centre for the situation that has led to his dharna and appealed to people to join him.
He said any crisis arising out of the situation including disturbance in holding Republic Day celebrations will be the responsibility of the Centre.
Defending his action to hold dharna, Kejriwal asked those gathered whether it was wrong to demand suspension of policemen in connection with the rape of Danish woman and those who failed to act on his cabinet colleagues' letter demanding protection for a woman who was later allegedly burnt alive by her parents-in-law.
Kejriwal said he was demanding action against policemen who failed to check drug and sex racket being run from south Delhi. He said under such circumstances, ministers should be seen among people instead of sitting in the cosy comforts of their big bungalows.
Kejriwal also criticised a section of the media, Congress and BJP for describing actions of AAP leaders as "vigilantism".
He also referred to the allegation made by former Union Home Secretary R K Singh against Shinde that he was involved in the transfer of SHOs in Delhi Police.
"It creates doubt that money has changed hands (for the purpose)," said Kejriwal.
He said most policemen are not corrupt and asked the honest ones to join AAP's movement against corruption. He recalled that the Delhi Government has given Rs 1 crore compensation to the next of the kin of the policeman who was killed by liquor mafia recently.
Kejriwal claimed that a woman official of the Ugandan High Commission met Law Minister Bharti and gave him a letter written by an official of the Mission to the government in Uganda on a woman from his country brought to Delhi and allegedly forced into prostitution racket.
He claimed the Ugandan official welcomed their campaign on the issue. The MEA intervened to point out that the letter was of June 2013 and since then that government has never raised this issue with India.