‘Operation Jhadoo’ launched to ‘crush’ AAP, claims Kejriwal; BJP asks him to break silence on Maliwal’s allegation

New Delhi, May 19 (PTI) The AAP-BJP slugfest over the alleged assault on Rajya Sabha MP Swati Maliwal escalated on Sunday as Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal claimed that the arrest of his aide Bibhav Kumar was part of BJP’s ‘Operation Jhadoo’ to “crush” AAP by jailing its leaders, freezing its accounts and evicting it from office.

Kejriwal led a march towards the BJP headquarters at the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg here but police had heavily barricaded the roads. The protesters stopped around 50 metres away from the office and dispersed, with AAP later saying they “waited for half an hour on the road for the police to come and arrest us but the BJP accepted its defeat”.

After Kumar’s arrest on Saturday, Kejriwal had said that he and other AAP leaders would march to the BJP headquarters “so that the prime minister can send anyone he wishes to jail”.

The BJP ridiculed Kejriwal, saying his protest had fizzled out and his supporters had deserted him. It said the AAP chief did not take to the streets for his jailed colleagues Manish Sisodia and Satyender Jain but was protesting against the arrest of his PA “who had assaulted” his party MP Maliwal.

“Kejriwal should break his silence instead of his ‘dramebazi (theatrics),” Shehzad Poonawalla, the national spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said in a post on X.

Maliwal too lashed out at AAP leaders, saying they once sought justice for Nirbhaya but today they are supporting a person accused of assaulting her.

Meanwhile the Delhi Police on Sunday seized electronic devices including CCTV DVR from Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence in connection with its probe into the alleged assault on Maliwal on May 13 on the premises.

The Aam Aadmi Party alleged that the Delhi police was “planting stories that the CCTV (camera) footage has been deleted but they have already seized it”.

Maliwal has accused Kumar of assaulting her on May 13 when she went to the chief minister’s residence. The AAP has trashed the charge and claimed that Maliwal is acting at the behest of the BJP to frame Kejriwal in a false case.

Addressing party workers and leaders ahead of the march to the BJP office, Kejriwal said there will be bigger challenges ahead and asked the cadre to be prepared.

“The prime minister has made up his mind to completely destroy and crush the Aam Aadmi Party, for which he has started an operation called ‘Operation Jhadoo’,” Kejriwal said, claiming that the BJP saw AAP as a challenge.

‘Jhadoo’ or broom is AAP’s election symbol.

“Under this operation, top leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party will be arrested, they are being arrested,” the Delhi chief minister claimed and repeated the allegations during his election meetings on Sunday.

Kejriwal spoke on the arrest of his PA and other leaders but did not refer to the allegations levelled by Maliwal.

The chief minister, who is out on interim bail in the excise policy case, claimed that AAP’s bank accounts would be frozen in the coming days and AAP would be brought “to the road” by getting it to vacate its office.

He again alleged that AAP leaders have been arrested in fabricated cases

Hitting back, the BJP asked him not to indulge in theatrics and instead break his “silence” on the Maliwal incident.

BJP spokesperson Poonawalla asked Kejriwal if he had ordered the “attack” on Maliwal at the chief minister’s residence and gave patronage to Kumar because he knows his “dark secrets”.

“Why is the CCTV (camera) footage missing? Did Kejriwal help Bibhav to destroy/tamper with evidence, including CCTV (camera) footage from Shoshan Mahal (Kejriwal’s residence)? Why release small clips and not full CCTV (camera) footage?” Poonawalla asked.

Addressing a press conference at the BJP headquarters, party MP Manoj Tiwari, who is seeking reelection from North East Delhi, alleged that Kejriwal held the protest to save Kumar.

“Why is Arvind Kejriwal not saying anything on the Swati Maliwal case and speaking in favour of Bibhav Kumar, who is accused of beating her up? Why is he trying to save Bibhav Kumar? What is his compulsion?” Tiwari asked.

“Protesting in favour of the person who beat up a woman. What a disgusting thinking. Everyone in Delhi is surprised and shocked,” he said.

Tiwari also said Maliwal suffered serious injuries, according to her medical report, and asserted that the BJP is speaking for her because she is a woman and the party cannot be a mute spectator to atrocities against women.

Kumar was arrested on Saturday and sent to a five-day police remand. The court noted the prosecution’s submissions about the need to take Kumar to Mumbai and other parts of the national capital to collect evidence, which was not possible without the custody of the accused.

Sources on Sunday said the police team collected electronic devices including CCTV DVR (digital video recorder) to potentially get the footage of the alleged assault on Maliwal on May 13.

Maliwal has alleged that the CCTV footage of the CM’s residence was being tampered with.

Addressing a press conference, AAP leader Saurabh Bharadwaj dismissed allegations that the CCTV camera footage had been deleted.

“Yesterday (Saturday), they seized the DVR of cameras installed at the entry gates and boundary walls and today (Sunday), they seized the DVR of cameras installed in other parts of the house. The police are planting stories that the CCTV (camera) footage has been deleted but they have already seized it,” he claimed.

“The incident happened in the drawing room. One usually does not install cameras there. I have never seen a CCTV camera. When a camera is not there, how can its footage be deleted? The police have everything with them and if they would have seen anything they would have shared it with the media,” the Delhi minister said.

“The police are planting stories at the behest of the BJP to tarnish the image of AAP before the elections,” he alleged.

There was no reaction from Delhi Police to the allegations.

In a post on X, Maliwal said if AAP leader and former deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, who is in jail in connection with the Delhi excise police case, had been here “maybe things wouldn’t have been so bad for me”.

Maliwal, who has been associated with the AAP since its inception more than 10 years ago, said there was a time when “we all used to come out on the streets to get justice for Nirbhaya”.

“Today, 12 years later, we have come out on the streets to save the accused (Bibhav Kumar) who made the CCTV footage disappear and formatted the phone. I wish they had used this much force for Manish Sisodia ji. Had he been here, maybe things wouldn’t have been so bad for me!” she wrote.

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