AAP, BJP clash over Delhi Police raids on call centres

AAP, BJP clash over Delhi Police raids on call centres
Highlights

The AAP on Friday night claimed the Election Commission agreed to its demand of keeping the Delhi Police out of a probe into BJP allegations that the ruling party in Delhi hired call centres for making "misleading" calls to voters.

The AAP on Friday night claimed the Election Commission agreed to its demand of keeping the Delhi Police out of a probe into BJP allegations that the ruling party in Delhi hired call centres for making "misleading" calls to voters. A joint meeting between an AAP delegation, Delhi Police and EC was held after a party workers' protest outside the poll panel office.

AAP members, led by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, alleged that "politically motivated and illegal" raids were being conducted on call centres hired by the party to make people aware that their names had been deleted from voters' lists. The Delhi Police falls under the Central government's control.

After over three hours of protest on Friday evening, Sisodia and AAP's Lok Sabha poll candidates Atishi and Raghav Chadha were called by the EC for the joint meeting. Emerging from the EC premises after three rounds of meetings, Sisodia told reporters the commission "seriously" listened to AAP's complaints on the raids.

"The raids were conducted to harass call centre employees, including women, who were made to stand," he alleged. "The EC has agreed to hold a probe into the call centre issue without the involvement of the police, which was our demand earlier," Sisodia told reporters.

However, there was no immediate response from the EC. During the meeting, the AAP delegation said the successive raids gave an indication "it was (a ploy) to help the BJP," Sisodia alleged.

The AAP has been alleging "deletion" of names of 30 lakh voters, particularly those from Purvanchali, Muslim and Bania communities, since the 2015 assembly election in Delhi and attacking the BJP, claiming it was behind it.

Sisodia said they also informed the EC that the police take action on reports of such calls, but when voters raise issues about their names being missing from the electoral list, no action is taken.

In Delhi, the polls are scheduled to be held on May 12.

"We are responsible for making those calls to tell the public about their name deletion. Telling people about their right is not a crime," Sisodia said after the meeting.

He alleged that a raid on a call centre was conducted barely an hour after he met Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora on Friday.

Sisodia's delegation met the CEC to lodge a complaint against the Delhi Police which, he claimed, was acting on the behest of the BJP to harass call centre employees.

Satish Golcha, special commissioner of police (Crime and EOW), said an FIR following complaints regarding the "bogus calls" was registered and investigation is under way. "As far as the allegations against us (Delhi Police) are concerned, we have already responded to the EC about them. Moreover, no call centre owners have filed a complaint regarding harassment by our team," he said.

"Relevant facts of the matter are being ascertained. The investigation is being conducted strictly in accordance with the law. Nobody has been arrested in the case so far. We are ascertaining facts from the call centres from where such calls have been made," he added.

Sources said call centre employees are being questioned to ascertain who gave them the work of making the calls, how did they procure data of the people and on what basis were they making claims about deletion of voters' names.

A BJP team had earlier met Arora and alleged the AAP was making these "misleading" phone calls.

The EC had directed the police to take "necessary action" against people making such calls.

The AAP leaders asserted as they hired the call centres, the police should question them, not the workers.

During an earlier meeting with Arora, Sisodia had urged the EC to direct the Delhi Police to stop the "harassment" of the call centre employees.

Sisodia alleged the Delhi Police raids were "politically motivated and illegal".

Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convenor Arvind Kejriwal also questioned the CEC. "Why is CEC raiding our call centres and asking for our data? What is our crime? Pl tell our crime at least," he said in a tweet.

Meanwhile,AAP volunteers led by respective MLAs and Lok Sabha candidates on Friday burnt copies of the BJP's 2014 Lok Sabha manifesto for Delhi in all 70 assembly seats.

AAP Delhi convenor Gopal Rai said Friday's action has shown that people of Delhi are no longer ready to bear the injustice being meted out to them since last seven decades. Rai said if AAP wins all seven parliamentary seats in the upcoming elections, then it will ensure that Delhi is granted full statehood.

AAP volunteers now plan to take the statehood movement to the next level by burning the BJP manifesto in all 272 wards of Delhi on Sunday, he said.

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