A group of people, purportedly lawyers, chased senior police officer Monika Bhardwaj during last week’s violence at Delhi’s Tis Hazari court, news reports said, based on CCTV footage that emerged on Thursday.
Bhardwaj, who is the deputy commissioner of police for North Delhi, is seen in the video being shielded by her support staff and some lawyers even as they push back against those chasing her. A fire can be seen raging in the background. No separate first information report has been filed in this specific case of attack, Hindustan Times reported.
Another video of the clashes showed the officer leading a group of four policemen trying to control the mob, NDTV reported. She is seen pleading with the protestors with folded hands. However, within a few seconds, she gets surrounded by the crowd. Bhardwaj has alleged that during the chaos, the service firearm belonging to one of her subordinates was snatched. It has been missing since then.
The police said they would include additional legal sections in an FIR that has already been filed against lawyers for their alleged role in the violence in which several police officials and lawyers were injured on Saturday. The altercation was reportedly sparked by a parking dispute between the two sides. An unidentified senior official claimed Bhardwaj was initially asked not to make a formal complaint as she would not get any results and “end up making a fool of herself”.
“The Crime Branch’s special investigation team is analysing all CCTV footage of Saturday’s violence as part of investigations,” Delhi Police spokesperson Anil Mittal told Hindustan Times. “They will record the statements of all officers who were part of mob control that day. Based on their probe, whatever new offences are detected, legal sections pertaining to those will be added in the existing FIR against lawyers. This will include the statement that will be made by the woman officer in question.”
National Commission for Women Chairperson Rekha Sharma has taken suo motu cognisance of the video, and has written to the Bar Council of India and the police commissioner, ANI reported.
In an audio clip accessed by NDTV, two policemen reportedly discussed the assault of the officer. “The pistol...has been snatched,” said one police official, according to the news channel. “I was beaten badly while trying to protect madam.” The official can be heard saying that he broke a shoulder, wrist and thumb, besides getting head injuries.
“She was pushed. They misbehaved with her,” one of them added. “Her shoulder and collar were dragged. All of those involved were men. She was very badly abused verbally. Madam cried outside the court.”
On Tuesday, many police personnel went on an 11-hour protest against lawyers. They also protested against the Delhi High Court’s order setting up a judicial inquiry into Saturday’s incident. The court had also ordered the transfer of two senior officers. The police have filed five cases based on complaints from lawyers but just one for all the 21 cops injured in the clashes. A case has also been registered for an incident of violence that occurred at a court in Saket on Monday. In a video, a lawyer was seen punching and slapping a policeman on a motorcycle.
Delhi High Court to hear plea against police officials in February
Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court said it will hear in February a plea seeking action against police officials who protested and sat on a dharna outside their headquarters on Tuesday following the clash with lawyers, PTI reported. A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar refused to hear the matter at an earlier date, and asked the lawyers to use their “good offices” to settle the matter with police officials.
The court was hearing a petition filed by a lawyer against police officials who made statements on social media, when the matter was already sub judice. The plea asked the Delhi High Court to order the Centre to initiate a departmental inquiry against the police officials who sat on a dharna and chanted “provocative slogans”.
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