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Delhi minister ends protest against police

Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal calls off unprecedented street protests in India's capital.

Last updated: 21 Jan 2014 19:31
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Chief Minister Kejriwal has been conducting official work while protesting on the streets [EPA]

Delhi's chief minister has called off an unprecedented 10-day protest against the state police, which he calls corrupt and ineffective, after eruption of violence.

Arvind Kejriwal told his supporters on Tuesday the force had promised to take action over his accusations of negligence by officers, insisting "the people of Delhi have won" even though his demands for the suspension of officers and shifting the central government-run force to his control were not met.

Delhi police said they had agreed to send two officers on leave who were at the centre of his allegations, to defuse the situation.

A two-day sit-in led by Kejriwal in the heart of the capital triggered clashes between demonstrators and police and drew attention to the radical street politics of the former activist who is now shaking up a national election.

The clashes subsided quickly but prompted criticism that Kejriwal's style of campaigning was irresponsible and inflammatory. The standoff has been a headache for the central government as it prepares for a military parade on Sunday near the protest site, close to where top ministries are located.

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The former anti-corruption activist was elected in December on promises of fixing a string of problems faced by residents of the city of 16 million people.

The sit-in came just over a year after thousands of Delhi residents took to the streets to protest against the gang-rape of a trainee physiotherapist.

"How can the home minister sleep when the country’s women can’t? How can the home minister not be bothered about the sad state of police in the country?" Kejriwal told CNN IBN news channel

Kejriwal's one-year-old Aam Aadmi Party, or Common Man Party, is trying to take advantage of its success in Delhi to build a national presence ahead of a national election due by May.

Kejriwal launched the sit-in demonstration to protest against alleged inaction against crime by the city's police force, and spent the night sleeping outside at the protest site.

One of the officers sent on leave was in charge in the tourist area of Delhi where a Danish woman was allegedly gang-raped last week.

"This is an important step towards making the Delhi police accountable to the people of Delhi and the elected government of Delhi," Kejriwal told reporters.

Both Congress party and opposition leaders accused Kejriwal of “gimmickry”, “activism over governance” and disrupting life for common people through mass protests.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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