Miffed over the visit of a Delhi Police official to the party office here seeking details of Rahul Gandhi ‘s physical appearance, the Congress on Saturday criticised the government and said that the party will take up the issue in Parliament.
The Delhi Police, however, said it was a routine security inquiry. As the news surfaced, the Ministry of Home Affairs asked for a report from the Delhi Police in this regard.
Rejecting the allegation of snooping on Gandhi, the Delhi Police said the visit by policemen to his office was a routine practise of being in touch with the dignitaries and there was no malafide in it.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi told reporters here that a Delhi Police Assistant Sub Inspector identified by him as Shamsher Singh had enquired about the colours of Rahul’s hairs, eyes, age, height, the shoes he wears and his father’s name and the places he visits.
Singhvi said the Delhi Policeman ASI was “found snooping” and making “unnecessary and weird” enquiries.
The policeman was stopped and accosted by the staff of Special Protection Group, who guard Rahul, at the residence of the Congress vice president, Singhvi said.
The incident gave ammo to Singhvi to launch a sharp attack on the government, saying it is a case of “political espionage and snooping” on rivals.
In a veiled reference to the snooping of a young woman in Gujarat during the tenure of Narendra Modi as chief minister, Singhvi, without naming Modi, said “espionage and surveillance” of political rivals may be a Gujarat model but not Indian model.
“The track record shows this kind of espionage was perfected in Gujarat for political opponents,” he said.
Singhvi added: “India is a proud democracy, not a police state. We are a vibrant democracy. This kind of political espionage is condemnable.”
Senior Congress leader PC Chacko termed it as a “breach of privacy and highly unacceptable.”
“It is intruding into the privacy of the citizen by Delhi Police without any valid purpose and is highly unacceptable,” he said.
“Who has done this and under whose instructions, we would like to know. If it is true, then senior officials should explain who authorised them to come. Rahul Gandhiji is an MP, all the details are available on Parliament’s website and there is nothing which is secret about him,” he said.
“Every individual has the right to his privacy. They have now started intruding into the private lives of the citizens also….This is highly objectionable,” he added.
Later, Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi clarified that such surveys were conducted at the offices of all protected persons from time to time owing to prevention and detection of crime and maintaining of law and order.
“Rahul Gandhi was not targeted by the police. It was a routine activity which is done to keep records of vulnerable personalities. Police also visited houses of Veerappa Moily, LK Advani, K Chandrasekhar Rao among others. There was no malafide intension behind seeking details about Gandhi,” Bassi told reporters here.
The Police Commissioner said police was never asked either by Prime Minister Office or Home Ministry to visit Rahul’s residence and asserted that there was no political pressure on police.
“Two cops went to Rahul Gandhi’s residence. Our beat officer Rameshwar Dyal went to his house on March 12 and sought details about him. As beat officers are not able to directly meet such persons, they contact their office staff and leave performa pertaining to required details,” Bassi said.
According to Bassi, on the same day, Dayal went to the houses of MP Krishan Pal Gujjar, Naresh Agarwal, M Veerappa Moily and Telengana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao.
Beat officers are instructed to meet the staff of important people living in the area falling under their jurisdiction and keep a personal information about them, he also said.
Bassi added that police keeps details of all vulnerable leaders like Amit Shah, Sonia Gandhi, 7, Race Course Road.
“Such details are also important in many cases… For instance, if there is any protest outside house of any important leader, cops may face problem in locating the house and identifying their staff without any such information,” Bassi said.
Earlier in the day, a Delhi Police team earlier this morning visited the residence of Gandhi to enquire about the incident.
A team, led by Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) Jatin Narwal, visited Gandhi’s Tughlak Lane residence to enquire about the sequence of events.
The team also checked the pictures of the policemen who had visited Rahul Gandhi’s residence a couple of days ago and enquired about the colour of Congress leader’s eyes and hairs.