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AAP Lawmaker Arrested For Alleged Assault Of Top Bureaucrat

NEW DELHI: An Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) lawmaker has been arrested and another is wanted by the police in Delhi over the alleged assault of the city's top bureaucrat at Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's home on Monday night. Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash has alleged that he was beaten and abused by Prakash Jarwal and Amanatullah Khan after being called for a meeting at midnight. The allegations have sparked an unprecedented confrontation between Delhi's ruling party and bureaucrats, who have declared that they will not attend any meeting unless Mr Kejriwal apologises for the alleged assault.

AAP lawmaker Prakash Jarwal was arrested last night and the police are looking for Amanatullah Khan, who has been in trouble with the law in the past.

In his police complaint, Anshu Prakash had alleged that the midnight meeting was called to force him to clear release of TV ads on three years of AAP. The assault was "pre-meditated and in conspiracy of all present", he said, which means the Chief Minister, his deputy Manish Sisodia and nine other lawmakers could also face criminal action.

The central IAS association called the alleged attack an "assault on the Constitution" and a large number of officials protested with candles outside Mr Kejriwal's home last evening.

The central IAS association's strong support came soon after Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh appeared to tweet his support to the bureaucrats, saying he was "deeply pained by the happenings" involving the Chief Secretary.

"Civil servants should be allowed to work with dignity and without fear," the Home Minister said after meeting a delegation of bureaucrats working with the Delhi government. He also asked Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal to for a report on the incident. AAP leaders later claimed that it was unfair that the Home Minister had not heard their version before making the statement.

The BJP and Congress have been sharply critical of Mr Kejriwal and his lawmakers. Delhi BJP's Manoj Tiwari called the AAP lawmakers "goons" and the assault an "act of urban naxalism". Ajay Maken, the Delhi Congress chief, asked the Chief Minister to apologise. "It will be a very dangerous situation if Delhi goes towards administrative paralysis," he said.

AAP referred to security footage of Anshu Prakash leaving the Chief Minister's home that night and accused him of lying about the assault. "Does it look like he was assaulted? Our MLA is seen following him and trying to talk to him," said an AAP leader.

AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj also rebutted Anshu Prakash on the agenda of the meeting - he said the Chief Secretary had been called to discuss a way to ensure cheaper food for 2.5 lakh people left out due to Aadhaar-based distribution.

AAP has questioned the police going on an overdrive to target its lawmakers but asked why no action had been taken against Chief Secretary, who allegedly violated the scheduled caste atrocity law, or the crowd that entered Delhi Secretariat and mobbed Delhi Minister Imran Hussain.

Ties between AAP and Delhi bureaucrats have been strained since the party came to power in 2015 because of an incessant power tussle. The Delhi government has no control over important departments like law and order, land and police. AAP accuses the Lieutenant Governor and bureaucrats of obstructing it at every turn on the orders of the BJP-led central government.
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