CCTV camera row: Rift between Arvind Kejriwal and Delhi L-G intensifies as CM sits on dharna in national capital

After a four-hour long protest involving marching on Delhi streets and sitting on a dharna in front of the secretariat of the lieutenant-governor, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday stuck to his stance against the committee formed by L-G Anil Baijal to regulate use of CCTV cameras in Delhi.

The decision, which came after a week-long war of letters between the Delhi government and the L-G’s office over installation of CCTVs in Delhi, is likely to escalate the tension between both the power centres.

While beginning the march to the secretariat of the L-G from his residence, as declared earlier, Arvind Kejriwal told reporters, “Nearly 2 lakh CCTV cameras have been installed in the capital city by various authorities. But the L-G did not bother to form any committee to regulate them. The New Delhi Metropolitan Council, Delhi Police, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation and Residents Welfare Associations installed 2 lakh CCTV cameras. But when Delhi government began installation of work, the L-G formed a committee.”

He added that the committee has a central government representative in it. “What is the reason behind engaging a central government officer in state government work?” he said.

 CCTV camera row: Rift between Arvind Kejriwal and Delhi L-G intensifies as CM sits on dharna in national capital

Arvind Kejriwal sat on a dharna over the issue of CCTV cameras in New Delhi. PTI

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia also accused the L-G of working on behalf of the BJP. "The BJP wants to stop the work of installation of CCTV cameras in Delhi because it will record the riots to be unleashed by the BJP in Delhi," he said.

The chief minister — along with his cabinet, AAP MLAs and MPs — marched to the LG office at 3 pm on Monday but were met with a deployment of police personnel. A source in the L-G's office told Firstpost that the L-G would meet the chief minister and his cabinet colleagues but not the MLAs. This was enough to trigger a dharna by Arvind Kejriwal and his company.

“The L-G does not want to meet the MLAs of AAP. He should know that MLAs have not come for their personal work but to discuss the issue of safety and security of women in Delhi. By declining (to meet AAP leaders), he showed disrespect to the people of Delhi,” Kejriwal said.

After three hours of dharna in front of the L-G's office, Kejriwal declared, “He did not meet us even though we awaited for three hours. Now we will take this entire issue to the people of Delhi.”

A source in the Delhi government said that it is determined to defy the orders of the committee formed by the L-G.

The entire high drama created on the issue of installing CCTV cameras in Delhi on Monday hardly caused any stir among the people. It was, on the other hand, seen as a nuisance by many.

Significantly, the L-G did not pass any order stopping the government from installing CCTVs. A release issued in the evening by the L-G’s office said, “Lt. Governor had already clarified in his letter dated 13.05.2018 that no instructions have been given to stall or stop the award of work for installation of CCTV by the elected government.”

It further stated that the aim of the government cannot be mere physical installation of CCTV Cameras. “Rather, the objective should be on how CCTVs will be used to enhance security and safety of women, aged and vulnerable sections, how these will be used to prevent and detect crime without at the same time compromising with the fundamental right of privacy and meeting with the requirements of the Information Technology Act, 2000,” it said.

On the issue of allowing other agencies to install CCTV cameras without any hindrance, the L-G's office’s statement said, “The fact that more than two lakh cameras have already been installed in the city without coordination highlights the need for a proper framework in which all CCTVs in public places installed in Delhi should work with a common objective of law enforcement, prevention and investigation of crimes and purpose in a coordinated, purposeful and regulated manner.”

Arun Shukla, a resident of Delhi who resides near the L-G's office and was watching how the political drama unfolded on Monday, did not seem to be moved by the protest launched by the Delhi chief minister. “The L-G has only formed a committee to ensure successful implementation of the project. Creating such a hue and cry over that only means that the Delhi government is only politicising the issue,” he said. He also raised questions over why all AAP MLAs were required to talk to the L-G. “Is not the cabinet already empowered by the MLAs to take decisions?” he asked.

The rift between the Delhi government and the L-G's office was kicked off a week back by a decision of the latter to set up a committee to formulate standard operating procedure and regulatory framework to set up CCTV cameras in the capital city. The L-G took this decision in response to the Delhi government's proposal to set up 1.4 lakh such cameras in the city.

In a letter written to the L-G, the Delhi chief minister had said on Saturday, “We reject your committee as it has been set up to create hurdles and it has been set up without any legal basis and without jurisdiction. The committee is illegal and unconstitutional.”


Updated Date: May 14, 2018 22:33:33 IST