Somnath’s marital dispute: Delhi government asks him to surrender (Roundup)

New Delhi, Sep 23 (IANS) The Delhi government on Wednesday made its displeasure clear on the Somnath Bharti domestic violence case by asking the former state law minister to surrender. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said Bharti was “becoming an embarrassment for the party and his family”.

“Somnath should surrender. Why is he running away? Why is he so scared of going to jail? Now he is becoming embarrassment for party n his family,” the chief minister said in a tweet.

“He should cooperate with police,” the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convenor added.

This was the first time that the chief minister spoke out firmly against his party legislator’s actions related to an issue that was so far termed “a personal family matter”.

Kejriwal and the AAP had firmly backed Malviya Nagar legislator Bharti for leading the infamous January 2014 midnight campaign on women African nationals.

He had accused the women residing in south Delhi’s Khidki Extension of being involved in a drugs and prostitution racket and had led a mob of local residents.

Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal, too, voiced her opinion against Bharti, saying he should cooperate in the investigation.

In her statement, Maliwal said: “Somnath Bharti must stop playing hide-and-seek and cooperate in the investigation. Serious observations were made against him by the high court yesterday (Tuesday).”

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday dismissed Bharti’s anticipatory bail plea in the domestic violence case filed by his wife Lipika Mitra.

The court said Bharti was “not only violent and outrageous at home, but also before the public at large”.

Reacting to Kejriwal’s statement on Bharti evading investigation, Mitra told reporters: “At last Kejriwal woke up and realised the issue after three-and-a-half months.”

“Someone in the party might be helping him (Bharti),” she said.

Mitra, whom Bharti married in 2010, had accused him of beating and torturing her. She alleged that he once tried to strangle her and ordered his dog, Don, to attack her when she was pregnant.

Bharti was named in a first information report (FIR) registered in Dwarka in west Delhi on charges of domestic violence and attempt to murder and attempt to cause miscarriage without the woman’s consent.

However, the AAP said it had never overlooked the issue of victimisation of women, but it was a slightly different case.

“It is a matter between a husband and wife, a matter of matrimonial discord. So, in case of a matrimonial discord, even courts provide opportunity for reconciliation. That’s what we are saying,” AAP leader Ashutosh told reporters.

Questioning Delhi Police’s actions in the case, he said police were showing surprising alertness.

In its ongoing search to arrest Bharti, Delhi Police on Wednesday questioned his close aides — including his brother Loknath Bharti and private secretary — to know about his whereabouts.

“We are questioning his brother and secretary along with another person. Loknath was also questioned last night (Tuesday), but allowed to leave in the night. Bharti’s sister was also called for questioning,” Joint Commissioner of Police Deependra Pathak told IANS.

Police have so far questioned eight people.

Five-six police teams have been conducting raids in places adjoining Delhi like Noida, Faridabad and Gurgaon.

“The AAP worker who sheltered Bharti last time when he was evading arrest has also been called for questioning,” the officer said.

Bharti’s office and residence were raided on Tuesday evening after his anticipatory bail plea was dismissed, but he could not be found.

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