New Delhi, Jan 29:
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal decided to end his protest after he was categorically told that force would be used to evict him and his supporters from the protest site, adjoining Rajpath, and that he would be solely responsible for the consequences.
Highly placed sources told IANS that the government decision to use force, if necessary, to clear the area outside Rail Bhavan, close to the route of the Republic Day parade, was conveyed to Kejriwal Jan 21.
Kejrwal, his cabinet colleagues and hundreds of Aam Admi Party (AAP) supporters had been sitting in protest for two days demanding the suspension of policemen who had refused to listen to his cabinet colleagues.
With the Jan 26 Republic Day parade just days away and the impending arrival of the chief guest, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the government made up its mind to act Jan 22, a day before the parade’s full-dress rehearsal barely 100 metres away.
This decision was conveyed to Kejriwal who, in turn, despatched his close aide and senior AAP leader Yogendra Yadav to Lt Governor Najeeb Jung.
Jung told him of the government’s decision and that Kejriwal would be solely responsible for any violence that might erupt and its consequences in the shape of injuries to his people.
Yadav sought a face-saver in the shape of the sacking of the two “errant” policemen, the sources said, but Jung refused.
As a compromise, Yadav then asked that they be sent on leave. To which, Jung agreed, “as one of the officers was going on leave anyway”, the sources added.
The announcement finally came late Tuesday evening around 7.45 p.m. A message from Jung was conveyed to Kejriwal that he was issuing orders for the two police officers to go on leave. Kejriwal announced that he was calling off the protest following the “partial victory”.
Jung’s letter had asked Kejriwal to withdraw his protest “in view of the sacrosanct occasion of the Republic Day and the perceived security situation”.