he process of the removal of Delhi police commissioner Neeraj Kumar, is likely to begin next week. According to highly placed sources, the top political leadership has made it clear that Kumar has to go in the wake of the gruesome rape of a five-year-old girl in Delhi, which led to fresh protests hitting the national capital. He is likely to be replaced by Bhimsen Bassi, a 1977 AGMU (Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union territories) cadre officer.
Kumar, whose tenure is ending on 30 June, is likely to go on a long leave before he retires. Sources told this newspaper that when the Delhi police came in for heavy criticism over the Delhi gang rape case in December-January, Kumar was saved by the intervention of Union Home Secretary R.K. Singh. However, this time Singh was not able to do much.
Interestingly, last year in November, the Lieutenant general of Delhi, Tejinder Khanna, had written a letter to Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, seeking an extension of Kumar's tenure. "However, now Shinde cannot do much about Kumar's fate since Congress president Sonia Gandhi has expressed her displeasure," the official commented.
The rape of the five-year-old girl, who was found three days after she was kidnapped by her neighbour from Gandhinagar area of the city, comes barely four months after the Delhi gang rape. The parents of the girl alleged that they were offered Rs 2,000 by police officials to keep quiet after she was recovered.
The girl was shifted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in a critical condition on Friday evening around 6.30 p.m., from Maharishi Dayanand Hospital, where she was admitted initially. She showed signs of recovery late in the evening. She is being monitored by a team of eight doctors. The last medical bulletin released on Saturday by Dr D.K. Sharma, medical superintendent of AIIMS, said: "The girl is conscious, alert and all her parameters within normal limit. She continues to be under close observation. The girl is speaking to her parents. A revaluation of her perineum wounds and dressing is planned to be done under anaesthesia tomorrow evening."
A large group of angry protesters gathered in front of AIIMS from 8 a.m. on Saturday demanding death sentence to the perpetrator and justice for the victimised child. People from all walks of life who decided not to sit at home on a weekend, political party workers, women's associations, social activists, working professionals, housewives and college students were seen standing outside the hospital gate for hours in the harsh April heat till late evening.
They shouted slogans like "hang the rapists", "change the sick mentality" and "stop raping women and children" and blocked the road for over an hour after which the police barricaded them. The road was strewn with pamphlets and placards denouncing sexual violence. Commuters were seen slowing down their vehicles to witness the ongoing protests.
"It is an unbelievably horrifying incident. It is a recap of the 16 December rape case when foreign objects were inserted in a young student's body. The government and the police should at least now come down hard on the rapists as the court dates will keep moving forward and protests will die down eventually," said Ashish Chauhan, a student of Delhi University's Deshbandhu College. He had come all the way from Mehrauli to join the AIIMS protest.
Protests also erupted in front of the residence of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, the India Gate, ITO and Jantar Mantar. However, the largest group gathered in front of the Delhi police headquarters in central Delhi. The protesters there were led by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) workers, who ACP Bani Singh Ahlawat to be terminated from his service. Ahlawat was suspended on Friday night under public pressure for slapping a woman protester. The woman was later identified as a 17-year-old Class XII student.
The party workers armed with national flags and wearing white caps sat in a peaceful protest outside the main gate of the building. They blocked the entire road with no traffic outlet and sang patriotic songs and repeatedly criticised the insensitive attitude of the police in handling the case. Students from various institutions too joined in.
"The lax attitude of the police has led to the deterioration of the girl's condition. We will do all that we can to change such attitudes," said AAP leader Manish Sisodia.
However, the protest turned violent when student organisations from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) clashed with the police trying to cross the barricades in order to meet the police chief.
"We broke the barricades since there was no response from the police personnel. They had been seeing the protests all day long remaining indifferent to the agitation," said Lenin V. Kumar, president of the JNU Students' Union. The student leaders have planned to take out an even larger protest march along with various women's associations at Jantar Mantar on Sunday evening.