We are being questioned because we work: DCW chief Swati Maliwal (IANS Interview)

New Delhi, Sep 8 (IANS) Facing allegations of corruption, Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal has said she has been victimised because the Commission under her stewardship has been working hard to resolve issues pertaining to women.

Maliwal denied the charges levelled by former DCW chief Barkha Singh that Aam Admi Pary activists are being hired for the Commission. She also questioned the role of the National Commission for Women in dealing with issues facing women.

“We are being questioned because we work so much. We are being asked how we have increased the amount of work. I’m getting feelers that many people are unhappy with the work we are doing,” Maliwal told IANS in an interview.

Incidentally, on August 18, the Anti-Corruption Branch raided the DCW office on the basis of a complaint filed by Barkha Singh. However, the ACB sleuths didn’t find anything incriminating after their four-hour-long raid.

“If you look at the allegations, they are by a Congress politician (Barkha Singh), and by a BJP politician (Vijender Gupta). The other allegation levelled against us is by a former Chief Secretary of Delhi who himself is accused of molestation. The DCW has helped a lady to file an FIR against him. So the complaint filed against us is bizarre. There’s no ground for a criminal case,” Maliwal said.

She said the Commission now acts promptly once a complaint is received. She also said that it was not the case earlier during the tenure of former Commission chief Barkha Singh.

“This year we have acted on 12,000 cases as compared to 3,500 handled during the tenure of the previous Commission chief. We have put in place a system wherein the moment a complaint is received, we act within 48 to 72 hours,” Maliwal said.

“Earlier, these complaints remained pending for over six months. Now we send notices to the Delhi government and the central government,” the DCW chief stressed, adding that the Commission is a neutral body with no political affiliation.

Harping on the achievements of the Commission under her watch, Maliwal said: “We made 50 recommendations to the government in the span of one year. But during the eight-year span of our previous chairperson, she made only one recommendation, and that too a very flimsy one.”

Mincing no words, Maliwal said Barkha Singh visited the DCW office only once a week and yet received the salary of an MLA as well as that for being the Commission’s chief.

“It was highly unethical. But see now they are hounding us for hiring more people. Is the security of women not important? We need these people because we work,” Maliwal said.

When asked about former Delhi minister Sandeep Kumar who is embroiled in an alleged sex scandal, Maliwal said the “strictest and strongest action” must be taken against him if found guilty.

“I believe public personalities should follow a certain standard of morality and the action taken by the Aam Aadmi Party was right,” Maliwal said.

Referring to AAP leader Ashutosh’s blog defending Sandeep Kumar, Maliwal said: “I have read Ashutosh’s blog and I completely disagree with his stand. I think he reached the conclusion too early. The lady in the video has also alleged that the sex with Sandeep Kumar was non-consensual. I also disagree with Ashutosh for comparing Sandeep Kumar with great figures like Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Nehru.”

However, she said the National Commission for Women’s notice to Ashutosh was the result of media frenzy.

“The NCW acts only when there’s a media frenzy, and never otherwise,” Maliwal said. “Why didn’t NCW serve a notice against Union minister Mahesh Sharma for making the ‘skirt’ comment? Why not serve a notice against Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan who had said that the Bulandshahr gang rape was a political conspiracy?” Maliwal asked.

She also accused the NCW of undermining the Commission’s credibility and giving an impression that it is a “toothless body”.

“What was the need to go after actor Salman Khan? What was the result… Khan refused to appear before the NCW, let alone apologise. There are many more pressing issues than just dealing with Salman Khan,” Maliwal said.

When asked about the possibility of being removed from the DCW post, Maliwal said she has Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s “sources” as information and did not receive any official intimation.

Incidentally, on August 26, the Delhi Chief Minister had tweeted that Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung and the Prime Minister’s Office were planning to remove Maliwal as she was doing a “good job”. Kejriwal had also said that Maliwal could be arrested.

However, Maliwal sounded unfazed. “I don’t fear anyone. I am answerable only to my conscience. There shouldn’t be politics over crimes against women. That’s unethical,” she said.

(Vishal Narayan cane be contacted at vishal.n@ians.in)

— IANS

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