Arrested Driver Linked To AAP? Exaggerated Version Of Events? DCW Chief Swati Maliwal Under Fire Over 'Politically Motivated' Sting Operation

Swarajya Staff

Jan 21, 2023, 11:30 PM | Updated 11:30 PM IST

DCW chief Swati Maliwal. (Source: @SwatiJaiHind official Twitter account)
DCW chief Swati Maliwal. (Source: @SwatiJaiHind official Twitter account)

On 19 January, newspapers reported that the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief, Swati Maliwal, was molested and dragged for 10-15 meters by a drunk driver after her hand got stuck in his car's window around 3 am on Thursday. The alleged incident occurred near AIIMS.

In her tweet, Maliwal had written: "Late last night I was inspecting the situation of women's security in Delhi. A car driver molested me in an inebriated condition and when I caught hold of him, he locked my hand in the car window and dragged me. God saved life. If the Chairperson of the Women's Commission is not safe in Delhi, then imagine the situation."

Details of the Incident

Footage of the incident has been recovered by the police.

In the video Maliwal is seen standing on the pavement when a car arrives. It is alleged that the driver told her to get in. The footage shows Maliwal saying, "Sorry, I can't hear you...What?" When the driver keeps insisting, the DCW chairperson is heard asking, "Where will you drop me? I want to go home. My relative are coming...". She then moves aside and the car is seen leaving.

After sometime, the same vehicle is seen returning after taking a U-turn and stops in front of Maliwal. At this point, she asks the driver, "You were the same person who told me that you will drop me right? Where will you drop me? I had told you right I have my relatives and they are coming."

She then moves on the side of the driver and and again asks him where would he drop her? The driver is heard asking "where does she want to go".

"You have come for the second time. I have been repeatedly telling you that I don't want to get dropped anywhere," Maliwal can be heard saying in the video.

She then slides her hand inside the car, in an attempt to catch hold of the car keys. Panicking the driver starts the car and rolls up the window, even as Maliwal's hand gets stuck. She is dragged along the car for a short distance and is heard screaming in the video.

Since the video has come out, her version of events, where she compared herself to the Kanjhawla hit-and-drag incident victim, have come under criticism for being exaggerated and misleading.

Maliwal was conducting a sting operation along with a news channel crew.

Delhi Police's Swift Response

Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) Chandan Chowdhary said a patrol vehicle spotted her on the pavement opposite AIIMS around 3.05 am and enquired if she was in distress. After Maliwal narrated her ordeal, the police tracked the car down and arrested its driver, identified as Harish Chandra Suryavanshi, within an hour.

Chowdhary said a case was registered under sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 341 (wrongful restraint), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act at Kotla Mubarak Pur based on a complaint by Maliwal.

Politically Motivated?

The manner in which the DCW chief conducted the sting and then reported it, raises questions about its authenticity.

The BJP attacked Maliwal for politicising the issue of women safety.

BJP leader Shazia Ilmi tweeted that Maliwal's 'drama' has been exposed "@AamAadmiParty and @abplive did a sting to defame Delhi and its police. Serious questions arise on its credibility. Is it legitimate to do cheap politics on the sensitive issue of women safety?"

The party alleged that the man arrested for harassing Maliwal is an active worker of the AAP. The party shared photos of the accused with the AAP MLA in Sangam Vihar.

The Delhi Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, has conveniently used the incident to mount another attack on the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, V.K. Saxena. In a letter to the LG, he referred to the incident to paint the dismal law and order situation in the capital and urged the LG to focus on it instead of intervening in the work of the Delhi government.

The BJP, on Saturday, sharpened its attack on the DCW chief.

In a letter to LG, Delhi BJP spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor requested that Maliwal be suspended until the conclusion of the police inquiry into the incident to ensure a fair investigation. Kapoor said reports indicate that the man accused of molesting the DCW chief was an AAP worker.

(with inputs from PTI)

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