Chandigarh: A day after a woman vandalised his office in the Haryana Civil Secretariat after failing to get an audience with him, state home minister Anil Vij was in a combative mood during his janata darbar (public meeting) at Ambala on Saturday and pulled up senior police officers for delay in providing justice to people.
Vij’s darbars, held weekly so far, see thousands of complainants airing grievances over the functioning of the police and government. On Saturday, the goings-on at the meetings were highlighted in a release issued by Vinod Kumar, an official spokesperson for Vij.
The minister listened to the problems of the attendees, spoke to the superintendents of police (SPs) concerned, and in some cases posed tough queries and reprimanded the officers when he did not get satisfactory replies.
Talking about the vandalism, Vij, when contacted by ThePrint over the phone on Saturday, said: “I was not in office when the incident took place. I was informed by my staff about what had happened after I had already left and gone down via the lift from the 8th floor.”
The woman, along with her daughter, had reportedly been waiting a long time Friday at Vij’s office for an audience with him. Later, when she was told the minister had left and that she could meet him during his darbar in Ambala the next day, the woman, furious, had proceeded to vandalise the secretariat — tearing paintings off the walls and smashing them to the ground, pulling out fire extinguishers installed in the corridor.
Vij asserted to ThePrint that he would have met the woman had his staff told him she had been waiting. “People throng to my darbar in thousands and I give everyone a patient hearing,” he said.
Asked about his combative mood at the darbar, Vij said he “couldn’t tolerate injustice to people”.
“Officers are there to listen to people’s complaints and provide them justice. The fact that a large number of people turn up at my darbars shows that those responsible for giving them justice are lacking somewhere,” he added.
While Vij’s darbar used to be a weekly feature, it will now be held every fortnight.
“The number of complaints I receive in my darbar is so huge that it is difficult to follow up on them and summon ‘action-taken’ reports in a week. Hence, I have decided that the public meeting will now be held every fortnight,” the minister said.
On Saturday itself, the minister confirmed, he had received over 5,000 complaints. And the darbar was still on when he spoke to ThePrint at 9.30 pm.
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Series of complaints, SPs pulled up
Vij has been making headlines for his tough approach towards police officers on complaints received at his darbar and for trying to deliver on-the-spot justice to people.
According to the official release, a woman from the Jind district of Haryana had appeared at Vij’s darbar Saturday and complained that her brother and nephew had been “killed by hanging, but the police were calling them cases of suicide”. The woman accused the police of refusing to listen to her.
Reassuring the woman that he would “fight her battle”, he called the SP of the district and “reprimanded” him for not hearing the woman’s side of the matter. He also asked the SP to send him an action-taken report in the matter promptly.
Another complainant, from Pillukhera village of Jind district, alleged that his 14-year-old niece had been raped by a temple priest’s son. He said an FIR had been lodged in the case but the police had not taken any action against the accused.
Vij called up the Jind SP over the phone and told him to take immediate action in the case.
One of the attendees to the darbar was a man from the state’s Charkhi Dadri district who alleged that he was being forced to live in Delhi after a near-fatal attack on him five months ago because the Haryana Police had arrested only one of his three assailants and the other accused were roaming free.
“I want both the remaining accused to be arrested by evening today,” Vij told the Charkhi Dadri SP after hearing the man.
A woman told the minister that her 16-year-old daughter had been abducted by a youth on 1 January. An FIR had been lodged in Rohtak but the police had failed to arrest the accused, the woman said.
Vij asked about the facts of the case from the Rohtak SP over phone. He then told the senior officer that he wanted the accused to be arrested quickly.
Another woman broke down before the minister as she tried to narrate her grievance. After being offered a glass of water by Vij, she told him that her four-month-old daughter had been suffering from muscular dystrophy and its treatment involved a very expensive injection. “Apply to the government online. The government has a policy of providing help to people suffering from serious diseases,” Vij informed her.
At a similar public meeting in January, a 27-year-old woman from Haryana’s Kaithal district had alleged that those accused of duping her of Rs 25 lakh were “having tea with officers” at a police station, showing the minister a video of the same.
Vij had then called the Kaithal SP and told him: “Band kar dun thana kya (shall I close the police station)?” He also asked the SP to suspend the officers seen having tea with the accused in the video.
(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)
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