By Ashish Mishra
The arrest of JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar on sedition charges and the resultant political fireworks appear to have hit hard one man: the outgoing Delhi Police chief Bhim Sain Bassi. Days after it was being speculated that Bassi, 59, may get a senior post in the Central Information Commission after he retires on February 29, it became clear on Friday that he had been ignored.
Bassi implied it as much.
“It doesn’t matter to me,” Bassi told the media when he was asked about reports that the government had axed his me from the list of candidates for a post of Information Commissioner.
Also, a day after Bassi insisted that Kanhaiya Kumar was not attacked at the Patiala House Court here, a medical report made public on Friday revealed that the student leader had suffered multiple injuries.
“There are multiple abrasions on Kumar’s nose and thighs. There is a tenderness on the right toe,” said a report released by Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, adding there were also several exterl injury marks.
The Congress on Thursday came out against the inclusion of Bassi for the post of Information Commissioner after his retirement.
In fact, both the Congress and the CPI-M, which have been most vocal in criticising the government over Kanhaiya Kumar’s arrest, have demanded the ouster of Bassi as the Delhi Police chief.
On Friday, six Left parties sought Kanhaiya Kumar’s release and punishment to those who they said fabricated “evidence” leading to his arrest.
“The truth has now come out that most of the evidence produced by the government was fabricated,” they said. “Those who have fabricated the evidence and propagated it must be punished under the law.”
An Indian Police Service officer of the 1977 batch, Bassi began his career as Assistant Superintendent of Police at Pondicherry.
He has also served in Aruchal Pradesh, Chandigarh and Goa. He was appointed Delhi Police Commissioner in August 2013 when the Congress-led UPA government was in power tiolly.
Bassi has been having regular run-ins with Delhi’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government over law and order issues. Delhi Police does not report to the Delhi government but to the central home ministry.
AAP leaders, including Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, have often accused him of being an “agent” of the BJP-led central government of Prime Minister rendra Modi. Bassi has denied the charge.
The Kanhaiya Kumar episode seems to have tripped him.
Delhi Police cracked down on the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) after “anti-tiol” slogans were allegedly raised at a meeting on Kashmir held in the campus on February 9.
The JNU Students Union led by Kanhaiya Kumar, who is from the CPI-affiliated All India Students Federation, did not organise the meeting and he has repeatedly denied shouting subversive slogans.
Bassi claimed his men had evidence to prove Kanhaiya committed seditious acts. But fresh video evidence seems to show that this was not true and that the tape which led to Kanhaiya Kumar’s arrest may have been doctored. And on Monday, when the Kanhaiya Kumar case was heard in the Patiala House Court here, a section of lawyers attacked JNU students and jourlists. The lawyers later boasted that they were proud of their aggression. A BJP legislator in Delhi, O.P. Sharma, was filmed chasing and beating up a CPI activist on the street outside the court.
Bassi had to face charges that while he used video clips and media reports to act against Kanhaiya Kumar, he was coy vis-a-vis the violent lawyers and BJP’s Sharma despite photographic evidence. Later, Sharma was held and let off after questioning.
(Ashish Mishra can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)