New Delhi, March 6: A court Thursday gave bail to 14 Aam Aadmi Party activists arrested on charges of rioting outside the Bharatiya Janata Party office here even as the AAP accused police of bias.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission in Delhi issued notice to the AAP following a complaint by the BJP on the issue.
The commission asked the AAP why permission was not sought from the authorities before holding the protest.
Later, the AAP accused the BJP of “intimidating” the year-old party and asked the Central Election Commission to order an inquiry into the alleged assault of AAP workers by those from the BJP.
Citing at least four incidents Wednesday, the AAP told the poll panel that there appeared to be a concerted attempt by the BJP “to attack and intimate the AAP”.
“This would vitiate the entire political atmosphere and have a serious impact on the conduct of free and fair elections all over the country,” said a letter signed by AAP national secretary Pankaj Gupta.
In Gujarat, where AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal is on a four-day visit to expose the claims of economic development by Chief Minister Narendra Modi, his AAP colleague Manish Sisodia’s car was damaged.
“His (Sisodia’s) car was damaged in an attack in Himmatnagar (in Gujarat),” a party member told IANS.
AAP leaders Ashutosh and Shazia Ilmi were questioned by police and let off later, officials said.
Metropolitan Magistrate Akash Jain said: “Keeping in view the facts of the case, nature of offences and undertaking given on behalf of the accused people, the present applications for bail of the present 14 applicants is allowed.”
The 14 AAP activists were asked to furnish a personal bond of Rs.15,000 with one surety of a like amount each and directed to join the investigations when needed and not try to tamper with evidence.
Appearing for the accused, AAP leaders and advocates Prashant Bhushan and Somnath Bharti requested the court to grant bail to all the accused as they have clean antecedents.
Bhushan told the court that the protest was peaceful until some BJP workers started throwing stones and chairs at AAP members, injuring many and some grievously.
Police opposed the bail plea.
Wednesday’s clashes followed a noisy demonstration staged by the AAP outside the BJP headquarters after police detained Kejriwal in Gujarat.
The demonstration, in which both Ashutosh and Ilmi took part, turned ugly with a section of BJP activists hurling stones and chairs from inside the office. AAP supporters retaliated from outside.
Police used water canons to disperse the demonstrators. One or two AAP members climbed onto a police van to stop the water spray.
A first information report (FIR) registered against the AAP named Ashutosh and Ilmi, both former journalists, along with Jawaharlal Nehru University professor Anand Kumar and some AAP legislators.
Police said 33 people were detained after the violence. They were booked for unlawful assembly, rioting, assault on public servants and unlawful activities. Some were let off Thursday morning.
Before police took him for questioning, Ashutosh tweeted that Delhi Police was biased as they had not arrested anyone from the BJP and were targeting only the AAP.
He said later that he was “a law abiding citizen” and would cooperate with police. He also warned party workers not to indulge in violence.
Bhushan echoed the charge. “Both police and the BJP seem determined to crush the AAP,” he said.
“This clearly shows the BJP and the Congress are hand in glove,” he said, a reference to Delhi Police which reports to the central government.
Kejriwal, who began a four-day tour of Gujarat Wednesday to “expose” Modi, again urged his party members to stay calm.
“We have to be prepared for such things. I request our workers… like I did yesterday to not to resort to violence,” he told the media Thursday.
The former Delhi chief minister reiterated that he had already apologized for the conduct of some of his workers Wednesday and was doing so again.
“We are on the path of truth which is a very difficult one. We have to be prepared to sacrifice. Under no circumstances should we indulge in violence,” he added.