The unfortunate death of Delhi Police constable Subash Chand Tomar has changed the discourse about the spontaneous uprising of young protestors on the issue of women's safety. His sad demise has, ironically, given the government and the security establishment the moral upper hand to claim that the protest march at India Gate and Vijay Chowk had been hijacked by lumpen elements. Worse, it could be bad news for Arvind Kejriwal’s fledgling Aam Admi Party (AAP).
An active member of AAP, Chaman Kumar, is one of the accused named in an FIR registered against eight persons in the case relating to the “murderous assault” on constable Tomar. The accused have been booked in case FIR No 181/12 under sections 186, 353, 188, 147, 148, 149, 307, 332, and 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The FIR has been registered at Tilak Marg police station. Since Tomar died this morning, the section 307 charge of attempt to murder will now be converted to section 302 of murder, a police officer said.
Chaman was picked up by the police from the spot where the violence took place and arrested after video footage showed him punching Tomar, including in the chest, when the constable fell on the road. Sources said Chaman was given bail yesterday on the personal surety of Manish Sisodia, a prominent member of the Aam Admi Party.
AAP members, including Arvind Kejriwal, made an appearance at India Gate when some agitators questioned the absence of politicians from the protests - from Congress to BJP to even AAP. After a massive clampdown by the government on protestors and the virtual shutting down of some New Delhi areas, including nine metro stations, in the vicinity of India Gate or Jantar Mantar, the protests have now sobered down. The death of Tomar will wind down the public anger further.
It was never intended to be like that. Earlier, the protests came as a rude shock to the ruling class, indicating that the youth of India may be unhappy with governance. The sprouting of a leaderless, but focused, protest had put the fear of god in the government, which was out of tune with public sentiment over women's issues.
Kejriwal and his colleagues are expected to do some explaining and clarify their positions over the Tomar case later in the day. The death has indeed been a setback to them, coming as it does when the party is trying to find its political space.
Constable Tomar was officially deployed on Sunday at Ram Lila Maidan where yoga guru Baba Ramdev was supposed to have his protest. Ramdev and his supporters, instead, chose to march towards India Gate, and Tomar, along with his other colleagues, followed them. The police version is that following some commotion, the agitators assaulted him. He fell to the ground and was run over by the protestors. He was also hit hard in various parts of the body, including his chest. He was moved to Ram Manohar Lohia hospital, where he was put on the ventilator for the last two days. He died early this morning.
The police have registered four other FIRs, three at Parliament Street police station and one at Connaught Place police station, on various sections relating to rioting and such other provisions.
The FIR registered against Baba Ramdev and former Army Chief General VK Singh has raised many eyebrows. Gen Singh had shared the dais with Ramdev at Jantar Mantar yesterday and he was prevented from marching towards India Gate, the epicentre of the protests. The FIR registered at Parliament Street police station gave the sequence of events that led to the clashes between police and protestors thus. Ramdev and Singh made speeches at the function, according to the FIR. Their supporters then clashed with the police when they were prevented from marching towards India Gate.
The former army chief has been at the forefront of various movements against government policies since the time he retired from service last May. This could be his first tryst with the police.