New Delhi, March 14:
The Delhi Police on Saturday termed as “routine” a visit by a policeman to Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s house to make queries – including on his physical appearance – even as the party termed it “political espionage” and sought an explanation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The BJP dismissed the Congress’ allegations as ridiculous.
Police Commissioner B.S. Bassi said Assistant Sub-Inspector Shamsher Singh of the Special Branch had gone to get a proforma filled and left it at Gandhi’s office March 3. He said the proforma was not person-specific and gathering such information about “vulnerable people” and revisiting it was part of the Special Branch’s duties.
“If he (the policeman) had gone with an ulterior motive or for snooping, he would not have left the proforma behind… There was no snooping, no instruction from the government of India. There is no pressure on police,” he said.
He said they had such information about Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and police have also visited residences of Congress leader Veerappa Moily and BJP veteran L.K. Advani.
Bassi, however, admitted that “some shortcomings had been noticed (about the kind of questions in the proforma being used since 1999) and these will be rectified.”
His reaction came minutes after Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi condemned police’s “unnecessary and weird inquiries” about Gandhi and launched a strong attack on the Modi government. The controversy erupted at a time Gandhi is on “leave of absence” to reflect on the party’s future course.
Alleging a Delhi Police officer was “found snooping” at Rahul Gandhi’s residence a few days ago, he said when the Special Protection Group personnel stopped him, it was found he was trying to fill up a form with “very interesting somewhat weird questions” about Gandhi’s name, his father’s name, his height, gait, eye and hair colour, dress and shoes.
“More importantly the telephone numbers and addresses of each of his (Gandhi’s) associates, friends, what he does, where he goes,” Singhvi said.
“This kind of political espionage, snooping, surveillance and intrusion in political opponent’s life may be the Gujarat model but not the Indian model,” Singhvi said, referring to the oft-quoted Modi’s Gujarat model of development.
Taking potshots at Modi, who served as Gujarat chief minister for almost 13 years, he said: “Track record may show that it has been a model perfected in Gujarat. Indeed not only for political opponents but for, we are told, large number of tales about judges, journalists and private persons.”
Demanding a comprehensive explanation by Home Minister Rajnath Singh or the prime minister, he said that it was not a Congress-centric issue and the party will raise it in parliament. “….It is something which everybody should stand up for, stand up against. It is something which no law permits.”
He said India is a proud democracy, not a police state. “This kind of political espionage is condemnable.”
BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi however ridiculed espionage charges levelled by the Congress, quipping the party considered itself to be above the law.
“They think that the common practices of law do not apply to them,” he said, adding: “If they call it espionage, then it shows their mentality.”
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah however poked fun at the Delhi Police.
“Honestly the Delhi Police-RG office script must have stand up comics salivating at what they can do with it.
“Dear Delhi Police, just to save your chaps time & effort I’m 179 cms, medium build, fair complexion, grey eyes & greying hair. U R welcome,” he tweeted. IANS