A man flung chilli powder at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal outside his office in the Delhi Secretariat on Tuesday, an attack the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) described as "politically motivated" while asserting that the BJP is hatching a conspiracy in collusion with Delhi Police to attack the CM.
Even as the AAP alleged that it was the third attack on Kejriwal, Delhi Police, however, issued a statement recounting the incident but did not specify whether the man threw chilli powder or not.
The statement mentioned that the man possessed a pouch which apparently contained chilli powder.
Even as the attacker Anil Kumar Sharma was detained, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said his party would not be "cowed" by these "petty tactics" of the BJP.
Police said 40-year-old Sharma, a resident of Naraina, has been detained for questioning.
The Delhi government later issued a rejoinder, accusing Delhi Police of "lying on record" about the "premeditated attack" on the Delhi chief minister inside the Secretariat.
"The security of the Delhi Secretariat is the responsibility of Delhi Police and there have been numerous incidents of security breaches in the recent past," it said.
"Instead of owning up its serious lapses, the Delhi Police is spreading lies under political pressure," the government said, adding that it would explore all legal options to deal with the situation.
A purported CCTV footage of the incident showed Kejriwal was being accompanied by his staff outside his office at third floor of the Delhi Secretariat. The accused could be seen approaching him without any check and handing him some papers that Kejriwal gave to his staff. The accused could be seen bending down to touch Kejriwal's feet and then suddenly lunging at him.
However, in a statement issued later, Delhi Police said the incident took place around 2.25 pm on the third floor of Delhi Secretariat. "When the CM was coming out of his chamber, one person later identified as Anil tried to hand over his complaint to the chief minister who in turn passed it on to a staff member," it said.
Meanwhile, Anil bowed down to touch Kejriwal's feet. The chief minister's security tried to take him away but, in the process, Kejriwal's spectacles fell, the statement said.
Subsequently, security personnel took him aside and found him carrying a pouch in his hand, which apparently contained chilli powder, it said.
"Sharma was visiting the Secretariat with reference of some staff. He has been detained for further questioning," the statement added.
Sharma managed to gain entry into the Delhi Secretariat after being issued a pass to go to the PGMS unit of the government, sources said, adding that he had apparently gone to seek help for an ailing relative.
"He was seeking help for an ailing relative. The pass was issued to him after a call was received from PGMS located in the secretariat," they said.
Public entry at the Delhi Secretariat is allowed from its gate number 6 where Delhi Police personnel do separate frisking of men and women going inside the premises.
While the AAP blamed the BJP for the alleged attack, Delhi unit chief of the saffron party Manoj Tiwari said such incidents "cannot be tolerated or justified by anybody" and called for a high-level probe.
Kejriwal's spectacles broke but his eyes seemed to have been spared any damage, they added.
Kumar, whose Aadhaar card has been recovered, brought the chilli powder to the secretariat in packets of 'khaini', or chewing tobacco, they said.
After throwing red pepper powder on Kejriwal, Kumar threatened to shoot him after he comes out of jail, an official recounted.
The incident took place outside the chief minister's chamber on the third floor when he was leaving for lunch.
AAP's national spokesperson Raghav Chadha, who was behind Kejriwal when the incident took place, tweeted, "Was right behind CM @ArvindKejriwal at the Secretariat when he was suddenly attacked, on 3rd floor right outside his office. Shocking lapse of security. Is this Delhi Police's incompetent effort to protect an elected CM?"
In another tweet, Chadha said, "While today just the CM's glasses fell to the floor and broke, an unacceptable security lapse nonetheless. Imagine if attacker were to be wielding a more dangerous weapon. Who were to have prevented a tragedy from occurring?"
Sisodia told reporters that the "attack" surprisingly took place at a high-security area. "Recently BJP Delhi chief Manoj Tiwari reached near stage during the inauguration of signature bridge. The BJP in collusion with Delhi Police is hatching a conspiracy to attack the chief minister," he told reporters here.
"We are not going to be cowed by BJP'S petty tactics," he added.
AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj accused the BJP of the alleged attack. According to Bhardwaj, the attack happened at the chief minister's office, which is a "high-security" zone. He said it was a serious matter and termed the attack "politically motivated".
"The BJP is behind the attack and the accused are being aided by the Modi government," he alleged.
Officials close to Kejriwal accused the Delhi Police of being lax in providing him security.