Indian media: Pressure grows on Kejriwal to sack minister over midnight raid

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal (right) and Somnath Bharti (centre) Image copyright AFP
Image caption Pressure is growing on Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal (right) to take action against Somnath Bharti (centre)

Media in India feel pressure is mounting on the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi to take action against Law Minister Somnath Bharti after the state's women's commission summoned him over his midnight raid on a house.

The Delhi Commission for Women had asked Mr Bharti to appear before it on Tuesday but the minister did not show up, reports said.

Television footage showed Mr Bharti ordering police officials last week to raid a house whose inhabitants were suspected of involvement in prostitution and drug use. But police refused, saying they had no legal warrant.

Four African women, who lived in the house, have identified Mr Bharti as the leader of "the mob" that allegedly misbehaved with them, the Hindustan Times reports.

Mr Bharti denies the allegation.

The AAP was borne out of an anti-corruption movement that swept India two years ago and made an impressive debut in the recent Delhi state elections.

But media outlets feel recent controversies have affected the popularity of the AAP and its Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

"The fact is that one section of the AAP personified by Somnath Bharti genuinely believes only in a politics of vigilantism, blackmail and brinksmanship," the Firstpost website says.

The Times of India says the midnight raid shows "the patriarchal-populist fallacy shared by almost all members of India's political class, AAP emphatically included, that women's security can be strengthened by targeting specific classes of women".

Most papers feel that Mr Bharti must step down to allow a fair probe into his alleged misconduct.

"If it wants to repair the damage to its own image, and if its ambition is to mature into a responsible alternative, the AAP must ask Mr Bharti to step aside," The Indian Express says.

The criticism against Mr Bharti has added to the woes of the AAP which was criticised by many over its street protest demanding more control over the Delhi police, which is run by the federal government.

Mr Kejriwal demanded that the federal government suspend police officers over their alleged reluctance to raid the house and over their handling of the gang rape of a Danish woman.

On Tuesday night, the chief minister called off his 33-hour protest after some police officials were given leave from their duty. His protest saw shutting down of four key metro stations and severe traffic jams in the heart of the capital city.

Literature boost

Moving on to other stories, India's public broadcaster, Doordarshan, has decided to air sign language interpretations of the Republic Day celebrations on 26 January, The Indian Express reports.

"For the convenience of hearing-impaired persons to understand the proceedings during the Republic Day parade, Doordarshan will show three sign language interpretations on all its three channels," the paper reports.

Meanwhile, the Jaipur Literature Festival clocked a new high of 220,000 visitors this year, reports the Deccan Herald.

India's premier annual festival, which concluded on Tuesday, attracts noted authors and thinkers from all over the world.

In some good news for animal lovers, a white tigress in Delhi zoo has given birth to six cubs, The Times of India reports.

"I think this has happened for the first time in Asia. There have been reports of five cubs but not six," the paper quotes zoo curator Riaz Khan as saying.

And finally, Indian cricket team have lost their number one spot in one-day internationals after suffering consecutive defeats against New Zealand.

Australia have replaced India as the top team after skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's team lost the match by 20 runs on Thursday, the Hindustan Times reports.

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