How Delhi women’s panel chief was dragged by ‘drunk’ driver

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An incident involving the chief of the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) has once again prompted questions on the safety of women in the National Capital.

Swati Maliwal was allegedly accosted and dragged by a “drunk” man in the wee hours of Thursday (19 January).

Harish Chandra, a 47-year-old resident of Sangam Vihar, has been nabbed by the Delhi Police in connection with the case.

What has Swati Maliwal said about the incident? How has the Delhi Police responded? We explain.

Swati Maliwal narrates ordeal

Swati Maliwal was allegedly molested and dragged for nearly 15 metres by an inebriated driver on the road outside AIIMS hospital when she was out to assess the safety of women on Delhi roads.

Maliwal alleged the man, who was in a Baleno, stopped when she was standing on the pavement outside AIIMS gate number 2 at around 3.11 am last night. The driver allegedly pressed her to get inside, PTI reported.

After she refused, he drove past her but soon made a U-turn and returned.

According to Maliwal, the driver again forced her to board the vehicle and as she reached in through the window to catch him, he rolled up the window, trapping her hand.

He then kept driving and dragged the DCW chairperson for about 10-15 metres before she could free herself, as per NDTV.

Maliwal said the driver was reeking of alcohol. “There were empty liquor bottles in the car,” she claimed, as per Hindustan Times.

Swati Maliwal was out to assess the safety of women on Delhi roads. News18 File Photo

Speaking to News18, Maliwal said she was “extremely traumatized and shaken”. “The man made lewd comments. He closed the window and my hand got stuck. He then dragged me, and I was really scared. There was no police patrol,” she alleged.

Maliwal said she was with her team when the incident took place.

She alleged the accused accelerated the car after her hand was trapped. “I was screaming. My team members came and shouted, and I was finally able to free myself. I could have been like Anjali. What happened to her could have happened to me. This is the state of affairs in Delhi,” Maliwal told Indian Express.

20-year-old Anjali Singh was hit by a car in the early hours of 1 January in Delhi’s Kanjhawala area.

After a Maruti Suzuki Baleno car collided with her scooter, Singh’s body was dragged for around 12 kilometres from Sultanpuri to Kanjhawala after getting stuck in the undercarriage of the vehicle.

Seven men were arrested in the case but one was later granted bail.

Delhi Police files complain

Delhi Police officials said that a patrol vehicle spotted the DCW chief and made the PCR call after she informed them of the incident.

At 3.12 am, the control room broadcast the message and started tracking the car. Around 3.34 am, the police found the car and apprehended the accused, the officials said, as per the Indian Express report.

“We have taken a written complaint from her. The driver of the vehicle and complainant was sent for medical examination. The accused has been apprehended,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) Chandan Chowdhary said, the report added.

Chowdhary said a case has been lodged under IPC 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) and section 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act, PTI reported.

Chandra, the accused, was produced before Link Metropolitan Magistrate earlier today, who sent him to judicial custody till 2 February, Indian Express reported.

The lawyer of the accused told Indian Express he has filed a bail application. “We have moved a bail application. We told the judge that one section is non-bailable, but the maximum punishment may extend to seven years. As per the Arnesh Kumar guidelines, we are entitled to bail. We will raise these arguments before the court,” the lawyer said.

Reactions to the incident

Reacting to the incident, National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Rekha Sharma said she is immediately writing to the Delhi Police commissioner. She has also asked for a detailed report on the matter within two days. “I am taking this very seriously. There is no safety”, Sharma said, as per News18. 

Slamming Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal raised questions on the law and order situation in the National Capital. In a tweet in Hindi, he said the “confidence of goons has increased so much that even the women’s commission chairperson is not safe.”

He added: “LG Sahib is requested to leave politics for a few days and focus on law and order. We will fully cooperate with them.”

With inputs from agencies

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