Delhi Police detained Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Wednesday for trying to meet the family of the ex-serviceman, Ram Kishan Grewal, who committed suicide on Tuesday over the issue of One Rank One Pension scheme (Orop). Gandhi was later released by the police, and then detained again. However, Sisodia was reportedly still detained at the Sansad Marg police station at the time of going to press.
The high-drama chain of events were triggered in the morning when Sisodia went to meet the kin of Grewal's family at the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, where they were waiting with the 70-year-old veteran's body. Sisodia was first denied entry into the hospital premises by the Delhi Police, and was later detained citing "security reasons".
According to reports, Grewal killed himself by consuming poison. A suicide note was found, but whether he committed because of Orop is not confirmed yet.
Gandhi, who tried to visit the family later in the day was also detained, only to be released later, and then detained again. After this Congress leaders Randeep Surjewala and Kiran Choudhrie were also detained as they tried to enter the hospital. Jyotiraditya Scindia was also detained for protesting against the police manhandling.
Politicians hit back
Furious over Sisodia's detention, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders protested in front of the Sansad Marg Police Station while Congress leaders criticised the Modi government for using Delhi Police to detain them.
After he was denied entry into the premises, Gandhi took potshots at the Centre and said that democracy is losing its way under the present government. "Ye Naya Hindustan ban raha hai bhaiya, aap pehchaniye isko (This is a new India in making, we must all acknowledge it)," he said.
AAP leaders also bashed Modi and questioned whether the BJP government was feeling jittery with leaders from other parties wanting to meet Grewal's family.
"I went to RML to meet the family, not to stage a dharna. What's wrong with that?" Sisodia tweeted. Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he added, "Law and order is in jeopardy if Delhi's deputy chief minister meets the grieving family? What kind of system is this, Modiji? You pat yourself over the soldiers' bravery and arrest us when we go to meet the family of a soldier who committed suicide. Patriotism?"
We would like to tell our readers that unlike the claims made across media platforms, the police detained the political leaders and not arrested them.
"This is an example of tanashahi by the Narendra Modi government. The people who gave 30 years of their life for the nation have been sitting on a dharna for the last year and a half," said AAP's Sanjay Singh.
AAP national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also lashed out at the government and termed Sisodia's detention as "goondagardi". "We had a cabinet meeting scheduled for today, which will now have to be cancelled as they arrested the deputy CM," said Kejriwal. The Delhi Chief Minister was stopped outside the Lady Harding Hospital where Grewal's autopsy was conducted. "My vehicle surrounded by police. Not allowing me to leave," the Aam Aadmi Party leader tweeted.
Kejriwal also asked whether people who detained Sisodia should also be liable for detention as by detaining the deputy CM from attending a cabinet meet, they were also disrupting the government's functioning. Kejriwal further said that the BJP was asking for votes in the name of surgical strikes conducted by the Indian Army while it decreased soldier's disability pension only a few days after the operation.
Grewals family detained, Rahul Gandhi gets angry
The drama heightened later in the day after the family members of the veteran soldier were also detained. Grewal's son, Jaswant, alleged that the police manhandled him and his family members. According to an IANS report, Jaswant alleged that the police abused and beat him, his younger brother as well as a brother-in-law at the hospital before taking them to the police station. This, he said in a video message, had not happened to any ex-serviceman's family. He demanded justice for his family.
The Police however, claimed that Grewal's family was detained because it was creating a ruckus, the report said.
After this, Gandhi, who was also held at the same police station, reportedly lost his temper with the police officer calling soldier's family's detenton "shameful" and symbolic of "undemocratic" mentality of the Modi government.
"Do you not feel ashamed? He is a son of an army veteran, he is his father... and you are arresting them?" a livid Gandhi told policemen pointing towards the deceased soldier Ram Kishan Grewal's son and father.
"What is your name? You think the family of India's martyr should be arrested? Do you not feel ashamed?," Gandhi asked a senior police officer at Mandir Marg Police Station where he was taken following his detention after he was denied entry into RML Hospital to meet Grewal's family. "A martyr's family is arrested. This is Modi ji's India," he earlier told reporters outside RML Hospital.
"How can you arrest the son and father of a martyr? And if you have not arrested them, then why are you not letting them go," he said after his request for releasing Grewal's family was turned down.
According to reports, Gandhi, who was keen to meet the ex-serviceman's family, was requested by a police officer to leave the place in view of his security. He, in turn, demanded that the official tell the media of the orders he had received. "They are telling me to go away from here and leave. I told you, a new India is being formed," he said as high political drama unfolded outside the hospital.
Though he was released from Mandir Marg Police station, according to Times Now, he was again detained and taken to the Tilak Marg Police Station.
Congress hits back, calls to implement Orop immediately
"Modiji is so scared that he has ordered his Police to beat families of martyrs and detain political opponents," Congress said on its website after Rahul's detention.
Party's chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala, who was also detained along with Haryana CLP leader Kiran Chowdhury, dubbed the action as "naked goondaism" of the Modi government. The Congress vice president earlier said, "My heartfelt condolences to the family of Subedar Ram Kishan Grewal. Extremely sad to learn of his death."
Gandhi also asked the Prime Minister to implement One Rank-One Pension scheme in a meaningful way in the wake of the alleged suicide by Grewal. He said soldiers should not have to struggle to claim what is their due. "I urge the PM once again: Soldiers should not have to struggle to claim what is their due. Orop must be implemented in a meaningful way!" he said on Twitter.
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel said, "Suicide of a jawan on issue of Orop is tragic. My condolences to the family. The government has lots to answer."
"The way government is working since day one is anti-democratic, they have one agenda to stop Rahul Gandhi wherever he goes," Patel said. Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma alleged, "Police used force against family members (of Ram Kishan Grewal's) who were dragged on the ground and beaten up."
Delhi Police responds
The Delhi Police, however, defended its decision to detain the leaders stating that politicians' visit would have created disturbance at the hospital. "First, AAP leaders came and they were detained because there was a lot of disturbance. Later Congress leaders were not allowed. Despite our advice, Rahul Gandhi came to the hospital," Delhi Police Special Commissioner MK Meena said.
"Democracy does not mean causing obstruction at the hospital," he added.
A Delhi police statement said that no arrests were made related to the incident.
With inputs from agencies