The home minister briefed media in New Delhi today regarding the events since the first of this month concerning the protests organised by Baba Ramdev. The text of his opening statement:
I wish to make a brief statement on the events since June 1, 2011 concerning the protest organised by Shri Baba Ramdev.
At the outset, it is with immense sadness that I note that the condition of Smt. Rajbala, admitted to hospital with severe spinal injuries, continues to be critical. My heart goes out to her and to her family. Government has been in touch with her family and has promised the best medical treatment and assistance in every other way. The family is in distress, and I hope there will be an opportunity for me to meet with the family and convey my deep sympathies and offer of help and compensation.
The Bharat Swabhiman Trust was given permission to organise a Yoga Training Session at Ramlila ground from 1.6.2011 to 20.6.2011 for 4,000–5,000 persons. When violations of the conditions attached to the permission were noticed and brought to the attention of the BST, they, by letter dated 28.5.2011, affirmed that “there will be no program at all except residential yoga camp”.
However, Shri Baba Ramdev, in the run up to 1.6.2011, at several meetings, announced that he will undertake a fast-unto-death beginning 4.6.2011.
Earlier, Government had taken note of the resolution passed by the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (of the RSS) on March 10-13, 2011 at Puttur, Karnataka; the announcement by the RSS of the formation of an “Anti-Corruption Front” with Shri Baba Ramdev as its patron and Shri K.N. Govindacharya as its convenor; the decision on 12.5.2011 of the ABVP to float an organisation named “Youth Against Corruption” and to coordinate with Shri Baba Ramdev; and the circular issued on 20.5.2011 by Shri Suresh Joshi of the RSS to all swayamsevaks to render all possible cooperation to Shri Baba Ramdev’s campaign. Similar instructions were issued on 28.5.2011 by Shri Ashok Singhal of the VHP to all VHP office bearers.
A decision was taken that Shri Baba Ramdev would not be allowed to organise any protest or undertake any fast-unto-death at Ramlila ground and that if he persisted in his efforts to do so he would be directed to remove himself from Delhi.
Government representatives engaged Shri Baba Ramdev in talks between 1.6.2011 and 4.6.2011. Late in the evening of 4.6.2011, it became clear that Shri Baba Ramdev had gone back on his assurances and was determined to persist with his fast-unto-death programme.
Delhi Police decided to enforce the decision to remove Shri Baba Ramdev from Ramlila ground. According to Delhi Police, when the order was served on Shri Baba Ramdev, he was obliged to obey the order and remove himself from Delhi. On the contrary, he defied the order. What happened thereafter and how he defied the order have been captured on camera and is known to everybody. According to Delhi Police, minimum force was used to contain the situation and apprehend Shri Baba Ramdev and remove him from Delhi. Delhi Police issued a brief press statement on 5.6.2011 followed by a media briefing by the Special Commissioner of Police. I do not wish to add anything at this stage. Delhi Police has received a notice from the Supreme Court of India and will explain the events and the action taken in their affidavit.
According to Delhi Police, there were over 20,000 persons at Ramlila ground on the night of 4/5.6.2011. 43 civilians were injured. 39 were discharged after first aid/medical examination. Two persons were treated for fractures and discharged. Two persons received serious injuries, both were operated upon, and one of them (Shri Sunil Kumar) is stable and recovering. The other person is Smt.Rajbala. 32 police personnel were also injured, but they were discharged after first aid/ medical examination.
I acknowledge that individuals and organisations have a right to protest peacefully in a democracy. Police give permission for peaceful protest, after taking into account the overall law and order and security situation. For example, permission was given to the BJP to undertake a satyagraha on 5/6.6.2011. Today, permission has been given to Shri Anna Hazare and others to observe a fast from 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. at Rajghat. Sometimes, permission is refused. Ramlila ground is situated in a sensitive area. Delhi is a huge metropolis and maintaining law and order in Delhi and preventing any kind of disturbance or conflict is a complex task. A small spark can trigger a conflagration. Decisions to grant or refuse permission are taken by the Police authorities. A decision to issue directions under section 65 of the Delhi Police Act and enforce the decision is also taken by the police authorities. I would appeal to the general public to appreciate the constraints and the difficult circumstances under which Delhi Police has to discharge its functions and responsibilities. In fact, what is true of Delhi and Delhi Police is also true of other metropolitan and large cities and police authorities in such cities.
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine