They are innocent until proven guilty. But some nominees from the three main parties in Delhi face grave charges of crimes against women.
Delhi assembly elections 2020 is just weeks away. With the closing of nominations and candidates, it is — as tradition calls it — important to look at the candidates with criminal records in the fray.
While the analysis of the 2015 Vidhan Sabha by Association for Democratic Reforms found, "None of the Ministers declared any heinous criminal cases like murder, attempt to murder, crimes against women and child, kidnapping or robbery and dacoity", this year we found more than a few cases pertaining to crimes against women, attempt to murder and also abetment to suicide.
In 2015, ministers with criminal cases were three out of seven (43%). We will see on February 11, as the results get declared, just how many made it to seats of power.
The AAP contestant from Rajouri Garden seat has a curious family history that deserves more scrutiny than party leaders gave it, perhaps because he has no FIR registered against him. But Dhanwanti Chandela, 60, has relatives who have been charged with heinous crimes. She is the aunt of Karan Chandela, who has charges of rape and abetment of suicide against him.
How does it matter, says the 19-year-old victim's mother resignedly. The political clout his family enjoys would mean her daughter would not get justice.
It is important to note that the Chandela family have been politically active politics for decades. And men from the family have had cases of rape and murder against them in the past.
Even Dhanwanti's husband, Dayanand, was convicted for a case from 2013 for an attempt to murder for which he served three years in jail before getting bail.
We spoke with the victim's mother, Simmi Datta, who has recently along with family and friends protested outside the AAP office for giving a ticket to Dhanwanti. Even before this, the victim's mother had spoken out against anyone from the family being handed a ticket several times as she believed this would mean her daughter is not getting justice. Her Twitter account t has many tweets directed towards Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and other senior leaders.
"Why is Kejriwal turning a blind eye towards all this? Even after protesting outside their office, they termed me as a BJP member. Let alone BJP, show me even one photo of mine with any politician and I will agree", she tells us.
"Perhaps they can do politics with their daughter's death. I am no Indira Gandhi that I will do politics on the death of Sanjay Gandhi. I was never interested in politics, and I never will be", the single mother says, adding she would fight till her daughter gets justice.
Simmi has also protested in front of Tilak Nagar police station and applied for the case to be shifted to the Crime Branch.
We spoke with the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case who said that "Karan Chandela, along with his mother and father have locked their home and gone off somewhere". This, he said, was a result of the pressure that the police had put on the family. "If there was any lapse from the side of the police, wouldn't they have stayed here? There is pressure, that is why they left. We have interrogated all of their family members and even raided their homes", he tells us when we ask about the victim's mother and family alleging the apparent political clout the family enjoy could hamper the investigation.
But Simmi says, "Three days ago, I provided the police with some information about their whereabouts, but by the time they took some action it was already too late. They told me that their house is locked and they aren't there. Now, of course, if someone commits such a crime, they will definitely flee."
It has been four months since the death of her only child, and the police are yet to take any action. "It's not like the accused is some Dawood Ibrahim," she quips.
Simmi alleges the police must have taken money, so they are keeping shut and not doing anything. "He has applied for anticipatory bail on January 27 at the High Court, but he also knows that his bail plea will be rejected since there is so much evidence against him already. The sessions court has already rejected his plea. I don't understand, is the police now waiting for him to apply at Supreme Court?" she questions.
For Simmi, it was even more shocking when the Investigative Officer told her that the accused would surrender on his own. "When does a murder convict surrender on their own? They surely got a call from Dhanwanti Chandela (the accused's aunt). Now she has managed to get a ticket from AAP for Rs 4 crore," she alleges.
The IO in the case told us that with the decision on the 27th for anticipatory bail, things would be clearer. The sessions court, he says had already dismissed Karan's plea. The accused had earlier received interim protection for 15 days.
After that, the IO says, "he (Karan) had asked not to arrest him, and in turn, he promised he would join the investigation. Then the accused provided his phone to check his chats before the death of the girl. It wasn't clear if the two were in a relationship", he said.
About the case itself, he said that the victim's friend had given information about the relationship which she said had been troubling the victim.
Simmi believes that "Once this family wins the election, then there will be such cases like my daughter's in so many houses. Being a single mother, I am still educated, so I am fighting for my daughter's cause." Simmi points out to several cases from the Chandela family. "One of Dhanwati Chandela's brothers-in-laws is behind bars for over a year now, under IPC 376 (rape and gangrape). Another brother-in-law has already served one-and-a-half years in jail for the same rape case and also murder (IPC 307)."
Simmi states that her daughter wasn't aware of Karan's family background when a mutual friend introduced them. They got into a relationship, and within a few days, he started asking for both monetary help and sexual favours from her.
"He made her pay his phone bills and even made her book rooms because he had some compromising videos of her. First, she went with him in good faith; during the course of their relationship, he took some videos of her and then started to blackmail her. The bail was rejected based on these evidences".
She also alleges that the accused would keep saying one thing: "My father will become an MLA and my aunt a councillor." Now, "The father is on the run, but see, the aunt has indeed managed to get a ticket."
Six weeks before her daughter took her own life in September 2019, Simmi picked up a call in her daughter's phone while the latter was in the washroom. "It was an unknown number, so I picked it up. It was Karan on the other side, and he perhaps thought it was my daughter speaking, and there was an onslaught of abuse. When I asked my daughter about who this person was, she did not tell me much out of fear."
It was through one of Muskaan's friend that Simmi got to know about Karan Chandela and how he was after her. Her daughter still did not share much as Karan kept threatening to throw acid on her mother and even kill her.
This led Simmi to Karan's father. "I went to confront Karan's father, and at that time, he pleaded with folded hands that 'My son will not even look at your daughter anymore.' I gave in to their words, but that was my biggest mistake. I should have gone to the police."
In a few days, he started blackmailing her again, and on 19th, he forced her to come to a hotel room. "There he raped her, and I also suspect that she was gang-raped by two of his friends as well. And when she returned home, she took her life," the mother says.
Simmi returned from work, broke down the door and saw her daughter hanging. "I took her to the hospital where her friends informed me that the torture has been continuing for some days."
Aam Aadmi Party
One may think this case is not directly related to a potential MLA and thus cannot be used as an example of potential criminals in power. And well, this is true.
But as mentioned earlier, we found many cases of candidates who had indeed pending cases where they had been charged with crimes grievous in nature.
The first one is again from AAP. This time it is the sitting Rithala MLA Mohinder Goyal, 55. A woman in her 40s claimed that Goyal knew her and a rape incident took place two years before the filing of her FIR in February last year. The case has been registered at the Prashant Vihar police station and is being investigated by an officer of the Crime Against Women cell.
Interestingly, that's not all from the AAP list of candidates. There is also 38-year-old Rajesh Nama Bansiwala, who will be fighting for the Rohini seat. He is accused in a case from 2009 which is still pending. In the case registered in UP's Mathura, Bansiwala has charges related to domestic abuse with IPC sections "498A/ 406, 323, 506, 34". IPC 498A deals with the husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty, IPC 406 pertains to criminal breach of trust, IPC section 506 pertains to criminal intimidation. While the case was registered more than a decade back, the charges were framed only in 2017.
The party also has a sitting MLA, Dinesh Mohaniya, 42, from Sangam Vihar who will be going in for re-election despite a charge of outraging the modesty of a woman with IPC sections 354/ 509 and 34 which pertain to criminal acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention.
There's also 38-year-old Jai Bhagwan Upkar, who is in the fray from Bawana constituency. He has two pending cases against him--one from 2018 with IPC sections 323/341/506, which accuses him of voluntarily causing hurt, wrongful restraint and criminal intimidation. The second case from 2019 pertains to IPC sections 308/506/323/341/34. IPC section 308 deals with culpable homicide.
Another AAP hopeful Abdul Rehman, 53, who is standing from Seelampur has a case from 2009 where charges have been framed under IPC sections 323/506/509/34/451.
IPC 509 pertains to word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman and IPC 451 which punishes house-trespassing aimed to commit an offence.
Bhartiya Janata Party
From the BJP, one of the standout cases is that of Suresh Chandra Vats. He is a BJP nominee from Shakur Basti, while the case pertains from 2015 in Maurya Enclave police station. In his affidavit, the 74-year-old has declared that he has been charged under section 354/A/B/D, 201, 506, 34 of the IPC and section 67 A of the IT Act.
The brief description that he shared on the affidavit states that the complaint was based on "alleged assault with the intent to outrage the modesty of a woman, disrobe, sexual harassment, and stalking, the disappearance of evidence and criminal intimidations". Furthermore, the IT Act pertains to "publishing of material containing sexually explicit act.
Another candidate from the BJP with a not-so-clean record is Anil Jha, 46, who will contest from Kirari. There are three cases pending against him, two of them of some gravity. Both FIRs, one from 2016 and another from 2017, are registered at Aman Vihar. The former case is related to SC/ST Atrocities Act, and the latter has IPC sections 354 and 509, that deal with outraging a woman's modesty and word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman.
Indian National Congress
From the Congress Party, a new entrant, 29-year-old Shubham Sharma, who is being fielded from Tughlaqabad, has a pending case from 2019 registered by his wife. The sections included in the FIR are IPC 323/325/354/354B/498A/506/406/34.
The description of the case says, it is a "matrimonial dispute with wife, who is living separately and lodged the above complaint/FIR alleging about the demand of dowry, assault, non-return of dowry articles and threat etc., as well as levelled allegations of outrage of modesty etc., against my father…"
Another pending case with charges of intent to outrage the modesty of a woman is on Satbir Sharma of the Congress party, who will be fighting for the Sadar Bazar seat. While charges have not been framed yet, the affidavit states, the FIR lodged at Police Station Sarai Rohilla on the 68-year-old from 2019, has IPC sections 323/341/354/509/452/34. Section 354 pertains to assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty.
While Delhi is known as the crime Capital, especially with regards to the safety of women, these nominations give little hope that our legislators will eradicate this blot on democracy.