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Chidambaram behind midnight swoop at Ramlila grounds: Ramdev

New Delhi: Yoga guru Ramdev on Monday alleged in the Supreme Court that Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram was behind the midnight crackdown on him and his followers during the protests on the issue of black money at the Ramlila Maidan last month.

Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani appearing for Baba Ramdev sought a direction that the Home Minister should explain the incident and notice should be issued to him personally.

A bench comprising justices B S Chauhan and Swatanter Kumar said it will consider the plea after getting the response of Delhi police on the June 4 incident and posted the matter for next hearing on July 25.

Mr. Jethmalani said Baba Ramdev had taken a decision not to walk down to Jantar Mantar protest on the issue of corruption and was staying with his followers at the Ramlila Maidan when the crackdown was launched.

He alleged there was no order of externment against Baba Ramdev and therefore Mr. Chidambaram must be called to explain when the decision was taken and why it was taken to get the area vacated.

However, before Mr. Jethmalani began the submissions, the bench asked senior advocate Harish Salve, who was appearing for the Delhi police, that there was need for response on some of the issues on which the law enforcing agency was silent.

The bench questioned the Delhi police for allegedly not registering the FIR on the complaint of the yoga guru’s followers against the alleged atrocities committed by the authorities. The bench said this has to be clarified in an affidavit.

The bench said the previous affidavit did not clarify what happened between June 1 and June 3. It said the DVDs and photographs, including the documents, clearly showed that yoga was being practised at the venue and asked the authorities to explain the situations that provoked them to stop Baba Ramdev from carrying forward his program.

The bench also questioned the police for lobbing tear gas and water cannons at the enclosed premises to drive out the people.

“Is it not expected that the tear gas and water cannons should be used in enclosed part…Was it not that people at 11:30 p.m. were sleeping? You resort to lathicharge. The photographs show the commissioner of police is talking to someone,” the bench said.

At the outset, the bench made it clear it is not dealing with any other aspect, except the June 4 occurrence.

The apex court had taken on June 6 suo motu cognisance of the midnight crackdown and had asked the Centre and Delhi Police to explain why it resorted to such a drastic action in middle of the night against the yoga guru and his followers.

Delhi Police subsequently, in its affidavit on the pre-dawn swoop at Ramlila Maidan, denied the allegations that it had used force to evict the yoga guru and his supporters from the site and claimed teargas shells were fired only after Baba Ramdev’s supporters turned violent and started pelting stones on the police.

Justifying its action, police had said the authorities had granted permission to Baba Ramdev to use the ground only to hold yoga camp and not for any other purpose.

The apex court had also issued notice to Ramdev-run Bharat Swabhiman Trust on June 19, seeking to know its version over the eviction of the yoga guru and his supporters from Ramlila maidan.

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